Chicagoan charged in Mumbai terror attacks

Headley faces conspiracy charges
December 7, 2009 (CHICAGO) One hundred and seventy people- six of whom were Americans- died in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India.

On Monday, federal charges were filed against David Headley, 49, in connection to the Mumbai attack. Headley was arrested in October at O'Hare while boarding a plane for Pakistan. At that time, he was charged only with plotting a terrorist attack planned for a Danish newspaper that employed a controversial cartoonist. He has since been linked to the Mumbai attack. On Monday, he was officially charged with conspiracy. Official said he traveled to India to check out the potential targets.

After the 2008 attacks, Indian investigators quickly put the blame on a Pakistani terrorist sect. But last spring the FBI became suspicious of Headley's numerous trips from Chicago to both Pakistan and India and found that he was also connected to the Pakistan terrorists.

"The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI sent a briefing team that today shared with Indian law enforcement counterparts information disclosed by Headley relating to his alleged roles in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and his alleged role in plotting an attack in Denmark," said Ian Kelly, U.S. State Department spokesman.

The new charges allege Headley went to India five times to scout potential targets for the Mumbai attack. He is accused of taking video of:

  • the popular and always packed Leopold Café, which was attacked in late November, 2008.
  • the city's ornate train station
  • and the Jewish Cultural Center Nariman House, which was attacked in November 2008 by grenades and rockets; Hostages were held by heavily armed terrorists.

    Chicago prosecutors also charged Headley with helping to prepare the attacks on the towering Oberoi Hotel and the Taj Mahal Hotel-- both of which became the focus of world attention during a three-day terrorist takeover.

    Headley's trips were coordinated by Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, according to the FBI. Rana owns several travel and immigration service firms in Chicago.

    Rana is charged in connection with the alleged plot in Denmark and was in Mumbai leading up to last year's terrorist attack. However, Rana was not named Monday in the latest Mumbai attack charges.

    According to prosecutors, Headley operated below the radar of law enforcement for years. They said he changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 to help conceal his identity in before traveling to India, prosecutors said, to case locations for a possible terrorist strike.

    On Monday, the justice department also announced charges against Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani army. He is accused of collaborating in the plot against the Danish newspaper.

  • Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.