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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

American jihadi charged in Mumbai attacks

In November, I reported that a Chicagoan with Pakistani roots had been arrested and charged with plotting to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllens-Posten, which published the Mohamed cartoons. At the time, it was thought that he was also involved in planning the Mumbai terror attacks last year. On Monday, he was formally charged with involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.
Court documents charge that David Coleman Headley, 49, an American citizen who is the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite, conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai, India, for more than two years prior to the attacks by the terrorist group called Lakshar-e-Taiba, which is based in Pakistan. Six Americans were among the dead in those attacks.

He has been charged with conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country, and material support of terrorism. Federal officials said the most serious charges, conspiring to carry out bombings that resulted in deaths, carry possible sentences of death or life in prison.

The Justice Department said that Mr. Headley, who is cooperating with the government’s investigation, spent several years and considerable effort on behalf of the plotters, attended training by the group in Pakistan, videotaped targets and briefed the other conspirators on how to carry out the attack on India’s largest city.

Mr. Headley took boat trips in and around Mumbai harbor in the spring of 2008, videotaping potential landing sites for the attackers, who would arrive by sea, the court documents charge. He also scouted out other potential targets in Mumbai and elsewhere in India that were not attacked, including the National Defense College in Delhi.
The warning signs were all there, but in the United States, which searches 80-year old women with hip replacements at its airports while allowing Muslims in their 20's to walk through unhindered, those warning signs were ignored.
Mr. Headley was born in Washington, where his Pakistani father and American mother worked at the Pakistani Embassy, he as a diplomat and she as a secretary. Mr. Headley’s mother, Serrill, grew up in a fashionable suburb of Philadelphia, and the cultural differences between her and her husband were too vast for the marriage to survive after the family went to Pakistan.

Serrill Headley left her husband and her children and moved back to Philadelphia sometime in the early 1970s. She worked at various office jobs and borrowed enough money from a suitor to buy an old bar, which she named the Khyber Pass.

In the late 1970s, she brought her adolescent son to Philadelphia to live with her. “Daood was not immune to the pleasures of American adolescence,” a former Khyber Pass employee once recalled.

Nor, to judge from his own words, was he immune to the lure of Islamic fundamentalism. “Courage is, by and large, exclusive to the Muslim nation,” he told high school classmates in an e-mail message last February.

More chilling was an e-mail message he wrote defending the beheading of a Polish engineer by the Taliban in Pakistan: “The best way for a man to die is with the sword.”
The picture was taken inside Chabad House in Mumbai after the terror attacks. Nor/Headley posed as a Jew and visited Chabad House to learn its layout as part of the attacks' planning.

Read the whole thing.

Dr. Rusty adds:
The importance of this being that radical Islamists are now using their American passports to bypass suspicion that would normally be put on them if traveling under, say, a Pakistani passport. They are using their American citizenship to plot and execute terrorist plots abroad.

And this is not too fine a point to make either for Headley was originally born Daood Gilani and only changed his name to make it sound less Muslim and more flyover country American. He also admits he did this to make international traveling easier.

Up until now we have only seen cases of individual Americans joining terror groups (eg, al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in Afghanistan) abroad. Americans have also been involved in planning failed terror plots at home. But Headley would be the first case of an American actually involved in the planning of a major terror attack abroad.

Think about that. An American involved in international terrorism abroad. That's a big deal and a far cry from our template of what the usual suspects would look like.

Also, lest our neighbors in the Great White North feel left out there's a Canada connection too. Headley's accomplice -- the man who's business Headley used as a front to conduct his terrorist surveillance activities abroad -- is named Tahawar Rana and is a Canadian citizen.

The business which was really a front for terrorism? An immigration service that helped foreigners get US work visas.

Think about the implications of that.
Read the whole thing.


At 5:03 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The US government prefers to ignore the home-grown Islamist threat rather than taking it seriously. The indictment is an example of what Debbie Schlussel calls a Maj. Hasan moment and it will be far from being the last one.


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