Pakistan-origin American national David Coleman Headley was charged in a court here with criminal conspiracy in the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people, including many foreigners.
The charges filed in the Federal Court in Chicago allege that Headley conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years preceding the November 26, 2008, terrorist attack.
Headley was charged in 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, murder and maim persons in India and Denmark, provide material support to foreign terrorist plots, provide material support to terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India.
The charges were announced by Patrick J Fitzgerald, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
49-year-old Headley allegedly attended terrorism training camps in Pakistan maintained by LeT earlier this decade and conspired with its members and others in planning and executing the attacks in both in India and Denmark, federal law enforcement officials announced on Monday.
A retired major in the Pakistani military Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed was also charged with conspiracy in planning to attack a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, to murder and maim persons in a foreign country and providing material support to terror conspiracy.
Rehman allegedly participated in the planning of a terrorist attack in Denmark, coordinated surveillance of the intended targets, facilitated communications regarding the surveillance and planning with a member of Lashkar and (Ilyas) Kashmiri.
Headley, along with Chicago man Tahawwur Rana, was arrested in October for planning terror attacks in India on behest of LeT and against a Danish newspaper.
Through his attorneys, Headley has authorised the Justice Department to disclose that he is cooperating in the ongoing investigation of both the Indian and Danish terror plots.
He has remained in federal custody without bond since he was arrested in Chicago. No date has been set yet for his arraignment in US District Court in Chicago, according to a statement by the US Attorney, Northern District of Illinois.
Major Rehman, who was not named previously but whose alleged participation was described in the initial charges against Headley and Rana, played the central role in communicating with Headley and facilitating contacts with other co-conspirators in Pakistan, including LeT members.
According to the charges filed against Headley, he changed his name from Daood Gilani on February 15, 2006, in Philadelphia after he learnt from members of the LeT in late 2005 that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance for Lashkar.
He changed his name in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani, the charges said.
Headley made five trips to Mumbai — in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008 — each time taking pictures and making videotapes of various targets, including those attacked in November 2008.
After each trip Headley undertook to India between September 2006 and July 2008, he returned to Pakistan, met other co-conspirators and provided them with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations, the charges said.
In March 2008, Headley and his co-conspirators discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would go to Mumbai by sea, and he was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and take surveillance video, which he did during his visit to India starting in April 2008, the charges allege.
Headley attended LeT training camps in Pakistan between February and August 2002 and August and December 2003.
At various times, he conducted surveillance of other locations in Mumbai and elsewhere in India of facilities and locations that were not attacked in November 2008, including the National Defence College in Delhi, the charges said.
After being tasked in late 2005 with gathering surveillance in Mumbai and changing his name in early 2006, the charges said Headley travelled to Chicago in June 2006 and advised a person identified in the charges as individual ‘A’ of his assignment.
Headley obtained Individual A’s approval to open an office of First World Immigration Services in Mumbai in 2006 as cover for his surveillance activities, the charges said, adding he misrepresented his birth name, father’s true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application.
Attorney Fitzgerald said the investigation would continue and the prosecutors will continue to seek charges against the other persons responsible for these attacks.
“This case serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat is global in nature and requires constant vigilance at home and abroad,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“We continue to share leads developed in this investigation with our foreign and domestic law enforcement partners as we work together on this important matter,” Kris said.