US had warnings on plotter of Mumbai attack
Published on: Monday, 18th October 2010 09:57 AM
Less than a year before terrorists killed at least 163 people in Mumbai, India, a young Moroccan woman went to American authorities in Pakistan to warn them that she believed her husband, David C. Headley, was plotting an attack.
It was not the first time American law enforcement authorities were warned about Mr. Headley, a longtime informer in Pakistan for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration whose roots in Pakistan and the United States allowed him to move easily in both worlds.
Two years earlier, in 2005, an American woman who was also married to the 50-year-old Mr. Headley told federal investigators in New York that she believed he was a member of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba created and sponsored by Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency.
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Despite those warnings by two of his three wives, Mr. Headley roamed far and wide on Lashkar's behalf between 2002 and 2009, receiving training in small-caliber weapons and countersurveillance, scouting targets for attacks, and building a network of connections that extended from Chicago to Pakistan's lawless northwestern frontier
Then in 2008, it was his handiwork as chief reconnaissance scout that set the stage for Lashkar's strike against Mumbai, an assault intended to provoke a conflict between nuclear-armed adversaries, Pakistan and India.
An examination of Mr. Headley's movements in the years before the bombing, based on interviews in Washington, Pakistan, India and Morocco, shows that he had overlapping, even baffling, contacts among seemingly disparate groups -- Pakistani intelligence, terrorists, and American drug investigators.
Those ties are rekindling concerns that the Mumbai bombings represent another communications breakdown in the fight against terrorism, and are raising the question of whether United States officials were reluctant to dig deeper into Mr. Headley's movements because he had been an informant for the D.E.A.
More significantly, they may indicate American wariness to pursue evidence that some officials in Pakistan, its major ally in the war against Al Qaeda, were involved in planning an attack that killed six Americans