Chicago man’s arrest forestalled terror attacks on Jewish-Israeli sites in India
US and Indian security sources say the arrest of the Pakistan-born American David Coleman Headley in Chicago on suspicion of complicity in the Mumbai terrorist atrocity in Nov. 2008 found him fully prepared to mount a wave of attacks this month on Israeli El Al airline offices, synagogues and Chabad hospitality centers across India, debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report.
A key figure in an al Qaeda-linked cell in Chicago, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani to travel as an American without incurring suspicion. Four months after the Mumbai siege, in which 170 people lost their lives in including six Americans, he was back in India on the same mission as before: selecting targets, advance surveillance, laying in secret caches of explosives and firearms for the Lashkar e-Taibe operatives to pick up on the sites of attack, and determining their exit point.
Headley traveled to India five times on the same mission in the two years leading up to the Mumbai attack by Lashkar e-Taibe elite units.
This Pakistan-based Islamist group acts as al Qaeda’s operational arm for its campaign of terror in India.
Last March, Headley booked into a small hotel near El Al offices in New Delhi for the surveillance of comings and goings and the security set up. He then rented a room in the Holiday Inn hotel opposite the Chabad center in the Indian capital, where many Israeli backpackers are made welcome. There, too, as he did in Mumbai, he visited the center in the guise of an Orthodox Jew and potential donor.
(The terrorist team which attacked the Chabad center in Mumbai last year murdered all six occupants as per their instructions not to leave anyone alive in the building.)
From Delhi, Headley travelled to Pushkar in Rajasthan, another spot popular with Israelis, where he booked into a room overlooking the synagogue saying he wanted to be in close rapport with the house of prayer.
Three days later, he was on the road to the village of Anjuna at the Arabian Sea resort of Goa, where he observed the habits of young Israeli tourists.
By October this year, when Headley was arrested along with at least one accomplice in the Chicago cell, they had made up their list of targeted Jewish and Israeli locations in India ready for attack. Those attacks were to have gone forward in late November and early December this year, only by then Headley and his accomplices in the Chicago terror cell were behind bars awaiting trial.
The former Daood Gilani faces 12 counts of terrorist conspiracy to bomb public buildings in India and murder and maim individuals in India and Denmark, for which he could be sentenced to death.
For more about the wide ranging charges against this first US-based al Qaeda cell orchestrating attacks world wide, click HERE.