December 10, 2009, - 4:18 pm
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.
Tags: Customs and Border Protection, Daood Gilani, David Coleman Headley, homegrown jihad, homegrown terrorist, homegrown terrorists, Islam, Islamic Terrorism, Islamic terrorist, Jihad, Muslim