David Coleman Headley’s Pakistani roots and his U.S. citizenship made him “a lucrative asset” for LeT operations in India, a top American think tank has said.
Headley, who was arrested by the FBI last year on charges of being involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack, is a dedicated LeT affiliate and his U.S. nationality helped him move around India with relative ease, said a report on the home-grown terrorist released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“All signs point to Headley being a dedicated LeT affiliate,” said the Washington-based think tank.
“This profile - Pakistani roots, US citizenship, and a nondescript name, likely made him a lucrative asset for LeT operations,” the CSIS said.
Noting that Headley, now in a Chicago jail, allegedly signed on as an operative sometime in 2005 and, since then, is purported to have made several visits to India and Pakistan, the report said. In February 2006, he even changed his legal name from Daood Sayed Gilani to Headley to hide his Muslim identity.
“Indeed, Headley’s April 2008 scouting mission appears to have played an important role in the Mumbai plot-as a US citizen, he was able to travel to India while facing relatively little scrutiny from officials there. His alleged Pakistani co-conspirators would have struggled to do this,” the report said.
According to the report, Headley’s relationship with transnational intermediaries appears somewhat vague.
The affidavit implicates a number of accomplices and associates who seem to have planned the Mumbai attacks with the Chicago man.
But unlike other American home-grown terrorists like Najibulla Zazi, the Minnesota Somalis, or the Northern Virginia Five, though, Headley does not seem to have required extensive help in order to travel abroad and connect with foreign militants.
“Part of this may be due to his extensive prior experience in Pakistan. Headley attended a preparatory school there and in 1998 was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin from Pakistan into the United States,” it said.
“This international experience, coupled with the fact that Headley seems to have “self-radicalised” (meaning he did not require an intermediary), makes for a particularly troubling case.
Because he was able to assimilate into both American and Pakistani cultures, Headley’s actions and movements went relatively unnoticed until after the Mumbai attacks,” the think tank said.