A former Philadelphia nightclub manager conducted extensive surveillance on potential targets in the Indian city of Mumbai before the terrorist attacks there in November 2008 that left 166 people dead, federal authorities in Chicago charged yesterday.
Prosecutors said that David Coleman Headley, who already has been charged with planning an attack on a Danish newspaper after it ran cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, made five extended trips to Mumbai from September 2006 through July 2008, taking pictures of various targets.
Headley is known locally from his brief stint here during the 1980s as manager of the popular rock club in Old City, the Khyber Pass.
But in recent years, he allegedly scouted hotels such as the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, the Leopold Cafe, a Jewish center known as Nariman House and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station - each of which was attacked with guns, grenades and other explosives.
Headley was charged in U.S. District Court yesterday with 12 counts, including six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim individuals in India and Denmark and other offenses.
He could be sentenced to death if convicted on the charges involving the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Headley's attorney, John T. Theis, said that he would "continue to look at this and see what the evidence is," but declined to comment further.
Headley, 48, was born as Daood Gilani, the product of a marriage between a Pakistani diplomat and a native of suburban Bryn Mawr, Serrill Headley. He spent his youth in Pakistan but his mother got a divorce, moved back to Philadelphia, opened the Khyber on 2nd Street, and gained custody of her by-then teenage son in 1977.
According to news accounts in the Inquirer and elsewhere, David Headley took over the bar in 1985 and ran it badly, eventually forcing a sale. He attended school locally and ran a Center City video store called FliksVideo, but in 1997 was convicted in New York of smuggling heroin into the United States and received a 15-month prison sentence.
The new charges filed yesterday said that Headley, 48, had attended training camps in Pakistan earlier this decade that were run by the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which specializes in violence against India. They also said that Headley conspired with members of that group to launch terrorist attacks in India.
Prosecutors said that Headley changed his name in 2006 so that he could pass in India for an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani.
Headley and Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, 48, a Canadian national, were charged in October with plotting to attack the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark. The newspaper had published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2005 that set off protests in parts of the Islamic world.
Federal prosecutors said at the time of his arrest that Headley admitted his role in the plot.