Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley, charged with scouting targets for Mumbai terror attacks, worked as a confidential informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration for more than a decade, according to a US media report.
The relationship began with his first arrest back in June 1988, when customs agents at the Frankfurt airport pulled aside an intense and striking young man waiting to get on a plane back home to Philadelphia, McClatchy Newspapers reported Monday.
"They suspected he had heroin in his suitcase. They were right - two kilos' worth from Pakistan, hidden under a false bottom," the report said. He wasn't tough to crack: Before the day was out, Daood "David" Gilani decided to save his own skin, agreeing to betray his drug-dealing partners by helping US drug agents set up a sting," it said.
It was the beginning of a complicated, off-and-on relationship as a confidential informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration - one that lasted more than a decade.
In fact, Gilani was so helpful as a DEA informant in the late 1990s on heroin imported from Pakistan, according to records and Inquirer interviews, that prosecutors made a rare move: They ended his probation years early, allowing him to travel freely.
Within weeks, investigators cited by McClatchy said, he began training with terrorists in Pakistan.
New details are emerging about the strange double life of Headley, the son of a Pakistani broadcaster and a Main Line socialite who would spend evenings holding court and drinking splits of champagne in her bar, the Khyber Pass, McClatchy said.
He was briefly married to a Philadelphia woman in the 1980s whom he met at the bar, who, like a lot of other young women, was mesmerised by his dark skin and piercing eyes - one blue, the other brown.
He later became a heroin addict, and twice was caught smuggling the drug into the country by the DEA, in 1988 in Frankfurt, Germany, and in 1997 in New York. Both times, he got off with a lighter sentence by testifying against his partners.
It quickly became clear to federal law enforcement officials in New York that Headley knew a great deal about the heroin trade between the US and Pakistan and was willing to cooperate, McClatchy said.