December 10, 2009, - 4:18 pm

Good Job, CBP Agents: Sharp Airport Inspector Caught Terrorist

By Debbie Schlussel

While you may have heard a lot in the past few days about American-born David Coleman Headley a/k/a Daood Gilani’s role as the scout for Islamic terrorists in selecting sites for the Mumbai terror attacks and murders, you probably didn’t hear much about how Americans caught on to him and his role.


It was thanks to a sharp Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent at a U.S. airport.  In a usually thankless job, border and airport inspectors working for CBP must ask a myriad of aliens and American citizens the same questions all day long and figure out which ones might be dangerous.  In the case of Headley/Gilani, one sharp CBP agent was on the money, and it began an extensive investigation and surveillance.  While federal authorities already suspected the man, it was thanks to sharp questioning by CBP that authorities had enough to go on.

Terror suspect David Headley was questioned by an airport inspector in August and deceptive answers about his travels abroad helped officials begin to unravel Mr. Headley’s alleged double life.

The 49-year-old Chicago man was charged this week for helping plot the terror attack in Mumbai a year ago that killed 166 people.

Federal authorities, already suspicious of him, used his return to the U.S. this summer as an opportunity, according to officials. A border inspector asked Mr. Headley about his overseas travel, according to court records and people familiar with the case.

Mr. Headley said he was working for a company called First World Immigration Service. First World is a business that allegedly provided Mr. Headley with cover as he traveled to scout terrorist targets for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group responsible for the November 2008 assault in Mumbai, according to the federal charges.

Agents searched Mr. Headley’s luggage and found it “contained no papers or other documents relating to such a business,” according to court documents. They also searched tax records and found no record of income paid to Mr. Headley by the company, court records show.

U.S. officials said Tuesday the questioning at the airport gave a significant boost to the investigation.

Mr. Headley was returning to the U.S. from a trip to Denmark in which he was scouting potential targets, authorities alleged. He is also being charged with planning an armed assault on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

Authorities said little more about the airport interview, including where it happened or why they had become suspicious of Mr. Headley. But court records showed that federal surveillance of Mr. Headley, who is an American, accelerated afterward. . . .

Under direction from the Pakistani terror group, Mr. Headley appears to have been a skilled operative leading a carefully cultivated double life. He posed as the representative of the global immigration firm on more than a dozen international missions, including to scout potential attacks in India and Europe.

Mr. Headley’s cellphone was registered to a dead man, as was his Chicago apartment, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 to further his cover, according to the FBI.

Oh, and this last part about Lashkar-e-Taiba is most interesting. Remember the Asian guy in the Virginia Tech massacre and how everyone jumped on and attacked me when I suggested there might be an Islamic angle? I mean, an Asian student attending Virginia Tech would never convert to Islam, join and Islamic terrorist group, and plan attacks, right?

The largest known U.S. case involving Lashkar is the Virginia Jihad cell uncovered in 2003, which included Yong Ki Kwon, who converted to Islam as a student at Virginia Tech. After college, he met Lashkar-trained Virginia Jihad leader Randall Royer, who helped Mr. Kwon gain admission to Lashkar training camps.

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22 Responses

Thank you for reporting this.

Fred Taub on December 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

There are jihadist cells in America that we don’t know about. We’re not as safe as we would like to think. For every would be terrorist the Feds catch, perhaps three more remain undetected. America’s home front remains vulnerable nearly a decade after 9/11.

NormanF on December 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Call me crazy, but I say that wherever you see Muslim communities in America you will find jihad cells.

    I call myself prescient.

    lexi on December 10, 2009 at 4:46 pm

#1: Virginia Tech is very close to Red House, VA. This used to be a small rural town until the Muslims took it over. It is now a no-go area for law enforcement.

#2: It looks like the US is a country that protects and harbors terrorists.

lexi on December 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Debbie is correct re: Asian Muslims. There are Indonesian, Thai, Filipio (don’t know if they’d be considered Asian), Chinese Muslims. There’s also James Yee–an American turned mental, I mean Muslim.

lexi on December 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Local news here (Chicago) did investigative report last night on teh connection to the India & Pakistani Consulates in Chicago. The Pakistan Consulate General in Chicago is an old school chum of these terrorists from back in Pakistan and issued the visas. Here’s the video:

dm60462 on December 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Great post on great work by this inspector. I am glad you pointed out about the Virgina Tech massacre, what you did.

And folks, for the record–I hold that one up as Exhibit A that Debbie knows her stuff and backs it up.

BB on December 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm

So I found yet another place where the ignorant, fearful and hate-filled “America First” crowd hangs out, huh? Thankfully your impotence in regards to any matters of real importance is alive and well. And hey Schlussel…you’re trying way too hard baby. Great ‘reporting’ by they way. It was impressive the way you pulled a WSJ article and then dropped a few lines in there. Real top notch stuff. What a pro!

REALAmerican on December 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    REALAmerican on December 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    “Real American” sounds more like a Muslim “American”. . .or a Muslim fantasizing about America becoming a Muslim nation.

    Notice how enraged “Real American” and other Muslim vessels of hate get when one of their own gets caught as a terrorist. And we are supposed to believe that they support America?

    As far as Cho Seung-hui, I think it was very likely he had converted to Islam and that there is a jihad cell around Blacksburg. When I was a student at Virginia Tech, there was a large number of “Palestinians” and Muslims. Also, wasn’t it strange that a “Palestinian” student just happened to be right next to the building filming the massacre while students would have been in class at that hour in the morning? And then you have the mysterious shooting deaths of two Christian Virginia Tech students who were hiking just outside Blacksburg three months ago.

    JM on December 10, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    You seem to be in quite a panic my friend. If this is such an insignificant site, why are you here? Also, in any of your remarks, did you disprove what Debbie put forward? You might try thinking just a bit before posting a tirade. It really impresses no one.

    Worry01 on December 11, 2009 at 4:40 am

      The trolls tend to panic easily, don’t they?

      lexi on December 11, 2009 at 9:14 am

JM: You must might be on to something.
As we all know, alienated misfits such as the Tech Killer are susceptible to conversion to Islam. Why else are the Muslims so successful in prisons? I hope the “Palestinian student” was questioned.

lexi on December 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Good article, good details.

Informed, educated people are never impotent. Unless you mean impotent like a libtard visiting and posting on this site.

I proudly had a islamic man with multiple I.D’S deported by notifying the authorites after I found out about it. Impotent? I think not.

Joe on December 10, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Any updates on that AirTran “dry run”? The media stopped reporting on it, and you just gave up! I can’t believe conservatives are taking MSM lies sitting down.

S: HUH?! I didn’t “just give up.” I wrote a lot about it. There’s been nothing new to report, since I wrote about it on Sunday. I didn’t take the lies sitting down. DS

Shii on December 10, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Kudos to CBP for working this hard and sacking this turd up. Of course, ICE isn’t involved; they don’t have the time between hunting fake nikes and purses, “anal”lyzing paperwork, and conducting witch hunts on their people.

icenomore on December 11, 2009 at 3:25 am

For those that see the self-imposed blindness. Disregard the posts that label anyone who is vigilant as “hate-filled racist bigots.” That just means you are wearing the wrong color T-shirt. This is where PC is headed, disagree or bring up a problem and you’re not going with the flow. I.e. spinning around the bowl with the way this country is going, about to be flushed down the big toilet.

John on December 11, 2009 at 8:51 am

Ft. Hood was ALMOST the tipping point. A few more even semi- spectacular terrorist attacks and the immensely successful slow jihad will have shot itself in the foot.

poetcomic1 on December 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

Why don’t these ragheads just kill each other like they do in the middle east?

Jarhead on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm

It’s comical when Debbie-haters (you know the ones) show up here and try to act superior.
Debbie, thank you for posting this-when it first came out I remember thinking: “David Headly? Doesn’t sound like a terrorist.” and now we know why.

Douglas Q on December 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Yes,I AM a HATER!!

I hate mohammed’s penchant for violence, his crazy beliefs about Jews and Christians. I hate his LOVE of child rape. I hate that he despised dogs. And, I hate moslem terrorists.

I am PROUD to be a hater of ALL that!!


Sewsalot on December 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Didn’t a Border Patrol agent near the Canadian border do something similar in capturing the Millennium Bomber?

The work these people do is important. Despite what might seem like an easy job that anyone can do, our safety depends on the ability to hire and retain competent people. I hope our government does not treat them just like toll booth collectors.

I_AM_ME on December 11, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Not a Border Patrol Agent, but a Customs Inspector at Port Angeles, If I recall correctly. And an Immigration Inspector in Orlando was the one who denied entrance to the 20th hijacker before 9-11.

Smitty on October 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

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