David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani American serving a life sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks is not known to have met al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden. Yet, an article about the criminal case against Headley from an American publication, was found among books and articles seized by Navy SEALs who killed him in May 2011.
Did the two men know each other? Had they met?
A full list of books and articles from bin Laden’s Bookshelf, as it’s being called, was released on Wednesday with other material, including previously classified documents. The article on Headley, from Tulsa World publication, was simply described as containing criminal charges against Headley. No other details were given out.Tulsa World, an Oklahoma publication, took note but said it was baffled why bin Laden kept this article. Editors dug out four relevant articles from the archives, to take another look.
Headley, who is now serving a life sentence in a US jail, had scouted out targets for the Mumbai 26/11 attacks and the one on German Bakery in Pune.
Qaeda had nothing to do with either, apparently, but enthusiastically embraced them both, calling the Mumbai attacks “heroic” and the Pune bombing “beautiful”. While working with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based outfit that carried out the Mumbai attacks, and Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, Headley was in touch with Qaeda. He was close from his early days in Pakistan to a man called Abdur Rehman Pasha, a Pakistani military officer said to be close to Lashkar and then, disenchanted, to al Qaeda.
Headley told Indian investigators in June 2010, as part of a plea deal with US authorities, that Pasha was in touch with Iliyas Kashmiri, then No 3 in the al Qaeda hierarchy, all the while.
“Abdur Rehman has met Osama a number of times,” Headley told Indian investigators. Pasha once told Headley that his set up has been given the name Jund-ul-Fida (Army of Fidayeens) by Osama bin Ladin himself,” the report said.
After Mumbai, Headley began planning an attack on a Danish publication with Kashmiri. He was arrested in 2009 at the Chicago airport, on his way to Philadelphia and then Pakistan.