I-Team

Headley pleads not guilty to new charges

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Chicago man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new charges in connection to a terrorist attack on Mumbai, India.

The attack by Pakistani terrorists in November 2008 killed 175.

He is charged as David Headley, the name he legally took in 2006. According to the FBI, that name change was to facilitate travel to India. Headley's birth name was Daood Gilani and authorities say he is a radical Islamist. His father was Pakistani.

The 49-year-old Pakistani-American, shackled and surrounded by federal agents, stood before a judge Wednesday in Chicago to answer the new charges that he had a hand in one of India's deadliest terrorist attacks.

The only public photo of Headley is a fuzzy copy of his U.S. passport that he used on five trips to India, where-- federal agents -- he scouted sites for terrorists. He was arraigned on a dozen terrorism charges during Wednesday's court appearance.

"These are very serious charges, we are treating them very seriously. Today he entered a plea of not guilty to all of the charges and I want to remind everyone that he is presumed innocent of these charges, of each and every one of the charges against him," said John Theis, Headley lawyer.

The new charges allege Headley did surveillance on potential targets for the Mumbai attack in November 2008 on orders from Pakistani terror leaders from a group known as Lakshar. He is accused of taking video of:

  • the popular Leopold Café, which was attacked by heavily-armed terrorists;
  • the city's cherished train station, where more than 50 people were gunned down and killed;
  • the Jewish cultural center Nariman House, which was attacked with grenades and rockets;
  • Chicago prosecutors also charged Headley with scouting the Oberoi Hotel and the Taj Mahal Hotel-- both of which became the focus of world attention during a three-day terrorist takeover.

    Headley was arrested at O'Hare Airport in October as he was boarding a plane bound for Pakistan. At that time he charged with planning an armed assault on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that were offensive to Muslims.

    Headley's trips were set up by Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana who was charged in connection with the alleged plot in Denmark and was in Mumbai leading up to last year's terrorist attack, according to the FBI.

    Rana owns several travel and immigration service firms in Chicago. He was not named in the latest Mumbai attack charges. He will appear in court next week.

    Headley has a hearing next month. Even though Headley has entered a plea of not guilty, he is cooperating with investigators, according to U.S. prosecutors --possibly setting the groundwork for a plea deal that would let him escape the federal death penalty.

    (Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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