A mysterious ‘Rahul’ appears to have been the prime target of Chicago resident David Coleman Headley, nabbed by the FBI for planning to carry out a major terror attack in India this month at the behest of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Headley (49) made several trips to India and intended staying there for some time — two to four weeks — to execute the LeT plans, according to U.S. investigators.
He was arrested, along with a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, earlier this month by the FBI’s joint terrorism task force at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport before he boarded a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel to Pakistan.
According to an affidavit filed by the FBI in a Chicago court, Headley, in an e-mail on July 8 to a senior leader, whose name has not been revealed but who has been identified as ‘LeT individual A’, said: “I think when we get a chance we should revisit our last location again and say Hi to Rahul.”
Following his arrest, Headley said the reference was to a prominent Indian actor with that first name, the FBI said in its complaint.
Intelligence sources in New Delhi discounted speculation that the reference could have been to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. In such cases, U.S. security agencies would immediately alert their Indian counterparts, but there was no such alert, the sources said.
The FBI complaint concluded that since the beginning of 2009 the LeT had placed a high priority on using Headley to assist in planning a new attack in India rather than on completing a terror attack on a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet in 2005.
Headley, who had changed his name to ‘Daood Gilani’ in 2006 so that there was less suspicion during his travels to India and Pakistan, was arrested along with the Pakistani-Canadian Tahawar Rana, also a resident of Chicago.
Rana was the owner of several businesses with offices in Chicago, New York and Toronto.
According to the FBI affidavit, Headley was in close contact with several unidentified leaders of the LeT and with Iliyas Kashmiri, said to be the operational chief of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir section of the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI), a terrorist organisation with links to the al Qaeda.
According to the FBI complaint, Headley had engaged in extensive international travel since at least 2006, including multiple trips to Pakistan, India, Denmark and other countries in Europe.
“Records reflecting the locations of internet protocol addresses used by Headley to send emails indicate that Headley has spent substantial time in Pakistan and elsewhere during the past several years often for months at a time,” the complaint said.