WASHINGTON — An American at the center of an international terrorism investigation has been charged with helping plot the 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 163 people dead, according to a Justice Department complaint unsealed on Monday.
The suspect, David C. Headley of Chicago, is accused of helping identify targets for a Pakistan-based terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose two-day attack on luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a Jewish community center and a crowded train station brought India’s financial capital to a halt and shocked the world. The complaint described Mr. Headley’s repeated scouting visits to the sites nearly two years before the attacks, which have reignited tensions between India and Pakistan.
The authorities say that among his conspirators was Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded by Western officials as one of the most dangerous Islamic militants operating in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas.
The charges, including six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places and to murder and maim, significantly expanded the government’s case against Mr. Headley, 49. And his profile — he has roots in the United States and links to high levels of the Pakistani government and military — makes him a highly unusual terror suspect.
Mr. Headley was arrested in October, along with another Chicago resident, Tahawwur Rana, and charged with plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that in 2005 published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, outraging much of the Muslim world.
Since his arrest, Mr. Headley has cooperated with the authorities. That assistance, along with new leads from the authorities in Pakistan and India, and an examination of e-mail messages between Mr. Headley and others suspected in the two plots, led to the new charges involving the Mumbai killings, officials said.
In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sent investigators to Mumbai to look into evidence being gathered by the authorities there.
Justice Department officials on Monday also announced charges against a retired major in the Pakistani military, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, in the newspaper scheme. Neither he nor Mr. Rana has been charged in connection with the Mumbai attacks. But court documents allege that Mr. Rana, a Canadian citizen who operates several businesses in Chicago and Toronto, helped Mr. Headley get the documents and alibi he needed to travel inconspicuously to India.
A lawyer for Mr. Headley refused to comment. Mr. Rana’s lawyer could not be reached. The authorities refused to say whether Mr. Rehman was in custody in Pakistan, citing the diplomatic tensions the case has caused in the United States, India and Pakistan.
In the complaint, prosecutors said Mr. Headley received training from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is dedicated to ending Indian rule of Kashmir, on several occasions from February 2002 to December 2003. After he was instructed by the group to conduct surveillance in Mumbai, the complaint says, he made five trips there from 2006 to 2008. Each time, he took photos and videos of various targets, including the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel, the Leopold Café, the Nariman House and a Mumbai train station.
In April 2008, Mr. Headley also scouted locations in and around the Mumbai harbor, looking for a safe landing for a boat that would carry the Lashkar operatives, officials say. After the visits, he traveled to Pakistan to hand over his photos and other material to his contacts.
Seven months later, at least 10 men landed at the port in two inflatable boats and attacked the city with grenades and assault rifles. Among the many killed were six Americans. Hundreds more were injured.
Federal officials said the case against Mr. Headley underscored the potential threat posed by American citizens who could use their ability to travel easily across borders in support of such plots.
The assistant attorney general for national security, David Kris, said, “This case serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat is global in nature and requires constant vigilance at home and abroad.”
William Headley, the suspect’s uncle, reacted with shock to the accusations on Monday. “You might as well be telling me my nephew is being charged with 9/11,” William Headley said in an interview. “That’s like pouring cold water inside me. He’s been in trouble before, but we thought something like this was beyond his character.”
David Headley, the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and an American socialite from Philadelphia, was born in Washington and raised in elite circles in Pakistan, where he attended a strict military high school. His parents divorced when he was young.
At 17, he arrived in the United States to live with his free-spirited mother, whose lifestyle clashed with his disciplined Muslim upbringing.
Friends and a relative said Mr. Headley dropped out of college and fell into trouble. In 1998 he was convicted of smuggling heroin into the United States, but avoided a long jail sentence by cooperating with the authorities. He later conducted undercover operations in Pakistan for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In 2006, he moved to Chicago, where he has a wife and children. But he no longer stayed in touch with most members of his family, relatives said. It is not clear if he has any contact with a half-brother, Daniel Gilani, who is a spokesman for Pakistan’s prime minister.
In recent months, Mr. Headley sent e-mail messages to former classmates at his military school defending terrorism.
The authorities said Mr. Headley went by his birth name, Daood Gilani, until 2005 when Lashkar-e-Taiba recruited him to scout locations for the Mumbai attack. It was then that he changed his name — David is English for Daood — to portray himself more convincingly as an American and ease overseas travel, the authorities said...
The legal documents are here.
Hmmm. His mother was 'an American socialite from Philadelphia'. She married - or was deliberately seduced by - a Pakistani Muslim attached to the Pakistani embassy: a strategic marriage that lasted exactly as long as it neeed to last, to do what it was probably intended to do - produce somebody like Daood Gilani who can blend into the West like a chameleon. The mother - did she convert to Islam? or did she have enough sense not to? - and the father divorced when the offspring was young. I would dearly like to know who initiated the divorce: Muslim daddy or Philadelphia mommy. Did daddy just say talaq talaq talaq - or did mummy's powerful Philadelphia blue-blood parents weigh in on her side to rescue her from disaster?
It appears that, Muslim-style, daddy got sole custody of the kid and took him off to pickle him in Islam in Pakistan (for 'disciplined Muslim upbringing', read 'fanatical Muslim brainwashing').
And then, at 17, he is sent back to America - perhaps, ostensibly, one must assume, to 'reconcile' with Mummy? In fact, to infiltrate; to be able to do what he subsequently did.
Note that his maternal uncle - presumably, non-Muslim, and presumably overcome by the smiles and wiles of his Muslim-reared nephew - is shocked! shocked! by the horrible revelation that said nephew was not only a drug smuggler ' (described primly by Uncle as his having been 'in trouble') but ...a full-on jihad plotter. Uncle just can't believe it.
Uncle needs to learn about taqiyya.