Deceptive answers about his travels abroad to an airport inspector proved to be the undoing of Pakistani American terror suspect David Coleman Headley, charged with helping to plan the Mumbai terror attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Federal authorities, already suspicious of Headley, used his return to the U.S. in August as an opportunity, the U.S. daily said citing unnamed officials.
A border inspector asked Headley about his overseas travel, according to court records and people familiar with the case, it said.
Headley said he was working for a company called First World Immigration Service. First World is a business that allegedly provided Headley with cover as he travelled to scout terrorist targets for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, according to the federal charges.
Agents searched Headley’s luggage and found it “contained no papers or other documents relating to such a business”, the daily said citing court documents. They also searched tax records and found no record of income paid to Headley by the company, court records show.
U.S. officials cited by the daily said the questioning at the airport gave a significant boost to the investigation.
Headley was returning to the U.S. from a trip to Denmark in which he was scouting potential targets, authorities alleged. He is also being charged with planning an armed assault on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
Authorities said little more about the airport interview, including where it happened or why they had become suspicious of Headley, the daily said. But court records showed that federal surveillance of Headley, who is an American, accelerated afterward.