Suspected Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley got his Caucasian looks and western-sounding name, which blinded intelligence agencies of two countries to his terror links, from his mother.
Before the Federal Bureau of Investigation stumbled upon Headley’s terror links, Headley had a free run of India and Denmark, two countries that were on the Lashkar radar.
Headley, 49, was born Daood Gilani to an American mother and a Pakistani father. In 2006, he changed his name.
Investigators said he took his last name, Headley, from his mother, possibly to make it easier to explain the new name without arousing suspicion.
Headley admitted to a Customs and Border Patrol officer who questioned him in August 2009 that he changed his name to raise less suspicion when he travelled.
The timing of the name change, 2006, could be linked to the decision to use him as a module in the Untied States.
The two together — Caucasian looks and western name — ensured that he did not arouse suspicion when he moved around, a senior government official acknowledged.
Investigators are not only looking at Headley’s role in identifying targets for attacks in the future but also his linkages with last year’s Mumbai attacks.