American charged over Mumbai attacks

08 Dec 2009

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CHICAGO, Dec 7 US justice officials on Monday charged Chicago native David Headley with helping to plot the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed nearly 170 people, including six Americans.

Headley is accused of making a series of surveillance trips to Mumbai over a period of almost two years, taking boat trips around the city's harbour to scope out landing sites for the Mumbai attackers.

The 49-year-old US citizen was arrested in October over a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed incendiary cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but on Monday the Justice Department released the new, shocking charges.

He is accused of conspiring to bomb public places in India, of seeking to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark, and of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India, the charge sheet said.

After agreeing to conduct surveillance for the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Headley changed his name to Daood Gilani in February 2006 to pass in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani, it said.

“He later made five extended 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,” the charge sheet said.

“After each trip that Headley took... he allegedly returned to Pakistan, met with other co-conspirators and provided them with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations.”

“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.” Headley had already been accused, along with Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen born in Pakistan, of plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that published incendiary cartoons that angered Muslims worldwide.

He was arrested by the FBI on October 3 at Chicago O'Hare airport attempting to board a flight to Pakistan via Philadelphia.

The US Justice Department, in announcing the new charges against Headley, also charged a third man Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military, over the Danish plot.—AFP