Chicago Men Helped Plan 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks; Surveilled Jewish Targets for Pakistani Terror Group
Involvement in Mumbai Terrorist Attacks
Posted: December 10, 2009
American citizen David Coleman Headley has pleaded guilty to helping plan a number of terrorist attacks, including a series of coordinated attacks in November 2008 that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai.
On March 18, 2010, Headley pleaded guilty to 12 federal terrorism charges, including six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India, conspiracy to murder and main people in India, conspiracy to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots and conspiracy to provide material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani-based terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda. Federal authorities originally filed the charges against him in December 2009.
According to the plea agreement, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani in February 2006 after members of LET tasked him with traveling to Mumbai to conduct surveillance of locations which were later targeted in terrorist attacks. Months later, Headley and Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian citizen who also resided in Chicago, decided to open a branch of Rana's Chicago-based immigration company in Mumbai as a cover for Headley's future activities there.
Rana was charged on January 14, 2010, with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in India and providing material support to LET. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on January 27, 2010.
During five trips to Mumbai between September 2006 and November 2008, Headley conducted reconnaissance of a number of the targeted locations, including the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the Leopold Café and the Nariman House, the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. Indian news sources have reported that Headley posed as a Jew during a July 2008 visit to the Nariman House, in which suspected members of LET tortured and killed six people during the terrorist attacks four months later.
According to court documents, Headley also conducted surveillance of other locations in India, including state and government facilities, such as the National Defense College in New Delhi and a nuclear weapons fuel plant in Tromboy, and public transportation systems.
Following each of his trips to India, Headley traveled to Pakistan, where he provided members of LET with pictures, videos and descriptions of the various locations he had surveyed. Headley and his co-conspirators discussed potential landing sites in the Mumbai harbor for the attackers, who arrived in Mumbai by sea. During a trip to India six months before the November attacks, Headley took boat trips in and around the harbor and shot surveillance video.
In addition to the Nariman House, LET has plotted to attack other Jewish and Israeli targets in India and the surrounding region. LET also tasked Headley and Rana with gathering details of Jewish centers across India. In March 2009, four months after the Mumbai terror attacks, Headley conducted additional reconnaissance of Chabad Houses in several cities in India, which reportedly included other Jewish centers in Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Pune and Pushkar. Indian news sources have reported that Headley posed as a Jew to gain access to a number of the Jewish centers he scouted.
In September and October 2009, Israeli and Indian intelligence agencies issued alerts warning of an LET plan to attack Jewish and Israeli locations in India. Two years earlier, Riyazuddin Nasir (also known as Mohammed Ghouse), who had reportedly trained with LET, plotted to attack American and Israeli tourists in Goa, India.