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U.S. Terror Suspect Charged In Mumbai Attack


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


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.


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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Dina Temple-Raston
Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.
Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.
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