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Chicago man accused in Mumbai terror attacks

David Headley faces 12 counts in connection with the 2008 rampage in India that killed more than 170 people. He has also been charged in a planned assault on a Danish newspaper.

December 07, 2009|By Jeff Coen

Reporting from Chicago — One of two Chicago men charged in a planned assault against a Danish newspaper has been officially accused in last year's terror attack in Mumbai, India, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced today.

David Headley allegedly conducted extensive surveillance of targets in India for more than two years before the November 2008 attack that killed more than 170 people, prosecutors said.

Headley, who is cooperating with authorities, was named in a 12-count indictment with six counts of conspiracy related to the Mumbai attack, which targeted two hotels, a train station, a cafe and a Jewish community center. Sources have said Headley's co-defendant in the newspaper case, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, is suspected to have paid for Headley's India missions, but he was not charged today. Headley was not expected to appear in court today, and no news conference was planned.

Headley and Rana were charged in October with planning to attack the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark over its publication of unflattering cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

Federal prosecutors said Headley attended terror training camps with the Lashkar-e-Taiba organization in Pakistan, which has been blamed for the India attacks. Among those killed in Mumbai were six Americans.

The charges against Headley, 49, include the six conspiracy counts, as well as providing material support to foreign terrorist plots, providing support to Lashkar and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India.

"This investigation remains active and ongoing. The team of prosecutors and agents will continue to seek charges against the other persons responsible for these attacks," U.S. Atty. Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement released this morning.

Prosecutors today also named a new defendant in the Danish newspaper case, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, identified as a retired Pakistani general. He was accused of participating in the planning for the Denmark operation, but was not in custody and is believed to be in Pakistan, officials said.

In connection with the Mumbai attacks, authorities said, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani in February 2006 while he was living in Philadelphia, a change he allegedly made to avoid suspicion while he traveled for Lashkar.

Authorities said he made five trips to India between September 2006 and July 2008, scouting sites for the attack and taking photographs. He would then return to Pakistan to discuss what he had learned with other figures in the plot, authorities said.

His attorney, John Theis, has not commented on the Mumbai part of the federal investigation.

The assault that began Nov. 26, 2008 involved 10 Lashkar attackers who used firearms and grenades in an assault on their targets, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

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