World and Nation

Chicago Suspect Charged in 2008 Mumbai Attack

An American at the center of an international terrorism investigation has been charged with helping plot the 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 173 people dead, according to a Justice Department complaint unsealed Monday.

David C. Headley of Chicago is accused of helping identify targets for a Pakistani-based terrorist group, called Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose two-day attack on luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a Jewish community center and a crowded train station brought India’s financial capital to a halt and shocked the world. The complaint described Headley’s repeated scouting visits to the sites.

The charges, including six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places and to murder and maim, significantly expanded the government’s case against Headley, 49. And his profile — he has roots in the United States and links to high levels of the Pakistani government and military — makes him a highly unusual terror suspect.

Headley was arrested in October with another Chicago resident, Tahawwur Rana, and charged with plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that in 2005 had published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which outraged much of the Muslim world. The authorities allege that among their co-conspirators was Ilyas Kashmiri, regarded by Western officials as one of the most dangerous Islamic militants operating in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas.

Since his arrest, Headley has cooperated with authorities. That assistance, along with new leads from the authorities in Pakistan and India, and an examination of e-mail messages between Headley and others suspected in the plots, led to the new charges involving the Mumbai killings, officials said.

A lawyer for Headley refused to comment. Rana’s lawyer could not be reached. The authorities refused to say whether Rehman was in custody in Pakistan, citing the diplomatic tensions the case has caused in the United States, India and Pakistan.

In the complaint, prosecutors said Headley received training from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is dedicated to ending Indian rule of Kashmir, on several occasions from February 2002 to December 2003. After he was told by the group to conduct surveillance in Mumbai, the complaint says, he made five trips there from 2006 to 2008. Each time, he took photos and videos of various targets.