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U.S. Terror Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack

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U.S. Terror Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack

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U.S. Terror Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack

U.S. Terror Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack

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David Coleman Headley was charged Monday with helping to plan the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Headley is the Chicago man who was arrested in October in connection with a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammmed. This new charge makes Headley the first American implicated in the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Today in Chicago, U.S. prosecutors charged David Coleman Headley with helping to plan the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Those were the attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Headley was arrested in October. He was accused of training with a Pakistani terrorist group. At that time, he was also accused in a different plot, a plan to attack a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is following this story for us. And, Dina, what's the latest?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, they just unsealed some court documents that charged that Headley conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years before the attacks actually happened.

Now, you may recall that there were 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai, and they arrived by sea so they wouldn't be detected. Well, allegedly, Headley was asked to take a number of boat trips around Mumbai in the past couple of years to scope out the best landing sites for the attackers, and apparently, they used them.

And prosecutors are also alleging that he provided this group, Lashkar-e-Taiba - this Pakistani terrorist group - with videotapes and maps and details on a number of the actual Mumbai targets such as the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Leopold Caf� and the train station where the gunmen attacked last year.

SIEGEL: Now, Headley is an American of Pakistani descent. Tell us a bit about his background.

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's right. He's an American citizen. His real name is Daood Gilani. And prosecutors say he changed his name to David Headley about three years ago so that he could present himself as an American when he traveled to India. He's 49 years old. And he's the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite. He was born in Washington, D.C.

SIEGEL: But Headley is now his legal name.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Exactly.

SIEGEL: What does it mean for the ongoing Mumbai investigation?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, it certainly adds a new wrinkle. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Lashkar-e-Taiba asked Headley in late 2005, so three years before the attack, to do reconnaissance on the Mumbai targets. And to now, the investigation has been this sort of tit for tat back and forth between Pakistan and India. And the investigation was actually at a bit of a standstill because of all the diplomatic problems between the two countries.

Now the U.S. is suddenly involved as this neutral party taking part in the investigation, and that dynamic has really changed. And in addition to that, the FBI is really focused on investigating the deaths of the six Americans, so they have their own reasons for getting to the bottom of the attack.

And apparently, Headley has started cooperating with the FBI and giving details on the plot. And that could be a really big game changer. And the FBI sent a team to India over the weekend to brief India's intelligence officials there on what they've learned from Headley so far.

SIEGEL: Dina, two others have been arrested in this plot. Briefly, who are they?

TEMPLE-RASTON: There's a man named Tahawwur Rana who was arrested with Headley two months ago in Chicago, and he's accused of providing material support to a terrorist organization. And then today, the new thing was prosecutors revealed the identity of a third suspect, a former Pakistani military man named Abdul Rahman. Apparently, he was also involved in the Mumbai attack planning. He lives in Lahore, Pakistan. And apparently, Pakistani officials have arrested him.

SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Dina.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston.

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Chicago Terrorism Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack

U.S. prosecutors have charged a Chicago man with helping to plan the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, which killed 166 people, including six Americans.

American David Coleman Headley, 49, was arrested in October. At that time, he was accused of planning to attack the offices of the Danish newspaper that had published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. That attack never took place. Headley was also accused of training with a Pakistani terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. He now faces much more serious charges related to the massacre in India, which was carried out by the group.

Court documents unsealed Monday allege that Headley conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years before the attacks. According to the court papers, Headley's reconnaissance helped the gunmen decide how to come into India undetected.

Lashkar-e-Taiba's leaders allegedly asked Headley to take a number of boat trips around Mumbai's harbor to scout the best landing sites for attackers to come in by sea. The attackers did end up landing in Mumbai by water. Prosecutors also allege that he provided Lashkar-e-Taiba with videotapes and maps, and details on a number of the sites that were attacked — including the Taj Mahal hotel, the Leopold cafe and a train station.

Headley has been charged with conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country, and material support of terrorism. Federal officials say the most serious charges of conspiring to carry out bombings could mean death or life in prison.

Headley, an American citizen, was born in Washington, D.C., to a former Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite. His given name was Daood Gilani, but prosecutors say he changed it about three years ago so he could go to India and present himself as an American without attracting attention.

Officials say Headley's role in the Mumbai attacks is an important development in the year-old investigation. Until now, the probe had been marred by disagreements between the Pakistani and Indian governments. The investigation was at somewhat of a standstill. Now that the U.S. is involved, the dynamic has changed. For example, the FBI is helping with the inquiry, focusing on the six Americans who were killed, so it has its own reasons for ensuring that all facets of the plot are uncovered.

In addition, Headley has apparently started cooperating with the FBI and has provided details on the planning of the Mumbai attacks. That would make him an important new source of information about the attacks: an American allegedly on the inside of a terrorist plot. The FBI sent a team to India over the weekend to brief intelligence officials there on what they have learned from Headley so far.

Two other men have been implicated in the case. Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana was arrested with Headley two months ago and accused of providing material support to a terrorist organization. And Pakistani officials have arrested a former military man named Abdur Rehman, who lives in Lahore, Pakistan. He is accused of helping to plan the Danish newspaper and Mumbai plots.

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