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December 9, 2009

Chicago man said to have scouted Mumbai maritime terror targets

Federal terrorism charges filed against a Chicago man earlier this week are a sobering reminder that maritime sites are prime targets for terrorist surveillance.

As widely reported, David Coleman Headley has been charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark, to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots, and to provide material support to Lashkar e Tayyiba, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Headley, whose name was then Daood Gilani, allegedly attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan that began in February and August 2002 and August and December 2003. After learning from members of Lashkar in late 2005 that he would be traveling to India to perform surveillance for Lashkar, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani on Feb. 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani. 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.

After being tasked in late 2005 with gathering surveillance in Mumbai and changing his name in early 2006, the charges allege that Headley traveled to Chicago in June 2006 and advised a person identified in the charges as Individual A of his assignment. Headley obtained Individual A's approval to open an office of First World Immigration Services in Mumbai in 2006 as cover for his surveillance activities, the charges allege. Headley allegedly misrepresented his birth name, father's true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application.

After each trip that Headley took to India between September 2006 and July 2008, he allegedly returned to Pakistan, met with other co-conspirators and provided them with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations. In March 2008, Headley and his co-conspirators discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea in Mumbai, and he was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbor and take surveillance video, which he did during his visit to India starting in April 2008, the charges allege.

READ THE COMPLAINT AGAINST HEADLEY


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