In changing his plea from 'not guilty' to 'guilty', Pakistani American terror suspect David Headley has given graphic details of his preparations for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, including training at Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT) operated camps in Pakistan.
Pleading guilty before a Chicago court Thursday to all 12 charges against him, Headley, 49, admitted he attended LeT training camps five times between February 2002 and December 2003 starting with a three-week course providing indoctrination on the merits of waging jihad, before being instructed by LeT to travel to India to scout targets for the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Four other three-week courses in August 2002, April 2003, August 2003 and December 2003 provided training in the use of weapons and grenades; close combat tactics, the use of weapons and grenades and survival skills; counter-surveillance skills; and combat and tactical training.
After receiving instructions from three LeT members in late 2005 to travel to India to conduct surveillance, Headley changed his name in February 2006 in Philadelphia from Daood Gilani to facilitate his activities on behalf of Lashkar by portraying himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani.
In the early summer of 2006, Headley and two LeT members discussed opening an immigration office in Mumbai as a cover for his surveillance activities.
Headley eventually made five extended trips to Mumbai, in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008, each time making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked in November 2008, the plea agreement said. Before each trip, LeT members and associates allegedly instructed Headley regarding specific locations where he was to conduct surveillance, and Headley travelled to Pakistan after each trip to meet with LeT members and associates, report on the results of his surveillance, and provide the surveillance videos.
Before the April 2008 surveillance trip, Headley met with co-conspirators in Pakistan and discussed potential landing sites in Mumbai for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea, the agreement disclosed.
Headley returned to Mumbai with a global positioning system device and took boat trips around the Mumbai harbour and entered various locations into the device, according to the plea agreement, prosecutors said.
Starting Nov 26, 2008, and continuing through Nov 28, 2008, 10 attackers trained by LeT carried out multiple assaults with firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices against multiple targets in Mumbai.
These included the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Café, the Chabad House and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, each of which Headley had scouted in advance, killing about 166 people and wounding hundreds more.
In March 2009, Headley made a sixth trip to India to conduct additional surveillance, including of the National Defence College in Delhi, and of Chabad Houses in several cities, the plea agreement disclosed.