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Oct 16th, 2010

U.S. Twice Warned of Mumbai Plotter

NBC confirms 2005 and 2007 reports to American authorities


Report: U.S. warned ahead of Mumbai attacks (MSNBC, Oct. 16, 2010) — The Washington Post reports that the wife of a key figure in the 2008 Mumbai swarm attacks warned U.S. federal agents three years beforehand that her husband was training with a Pakistani militant group. NBC’S Tazeen Ahmad reports. (02:24)

Michael Isikoff

National investigative correspondent

October 16, 2010

There were two separate warnings that an American businessman was plotting a terrorist attack in India with the Pakistani extremist group that carried out the Mumbai assault, NBC News confirmed Saturday.

But the second warning, given by the man’s wife to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad just a year before the attack, was never passed to the FBI in New York, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.

The November 2008 attack in Mumbai left 166 people dead and severely frayed relations between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Three years before the attack, FBI agents in New York were told that an American was talking about buying night vision goggles and other equipment that could be used for terrorist purposes, U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC.

But the officials said the information, which came from the man’s ex-wife, was “general” in nature and could not be linked to any specific terrorism plot. Nor was it sufficient to place the man, David Coleman Headley, on the “no fly” list or trigger a full-scale probe at the time.

After the FBI closed out its file on Headley, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was visited in 2007 by another wife of Headley’s who told officials that her husband was involved with members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to U.S. law enforcement and national security officials. But that report was never passed back to the FBI in New York, one official told NBC.

That and other new information about Headley could raise new questions about information sharing among U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It could also create diplomatically sensitive issues for the White House, given that President Obama is scheduled to visit India next week and attend a ceremony commemorating the Mumbai attacks. …

Their original tip on Headley came from his ex-wife in New York who went to the police after he allegedly beat her. In the course of reporting what was described as a “domestic abuse” case, she mentioned his sympathy with Pakistani militants and his plans to purchase night vision goggles, prompting the police officers to call in FBI agents from its Joint Terrorism Task Force, one of the officials said.

Headley was arrested by the FBI in Chicago last year and later pleaded guilty to conducting multiple reconnaissance missions for the Mumbai attacks on behalf of Lashkar.

Image: David Coleman Headley
A drawing from December shows David Coleman Headley in court facing charges that he conspired in the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. (Image: Verna Sadock / AP)

The information about the first warning about Headley to New York FBI agents was first reported by the news organization ProPublica. The information about the second warning from Headley’s wife in Islamabad was first reported by the New York Times.

Full story


Related reports on this site

Mumbai Attacks

Al-Qaida Plans Mumbai-Style Swarm Attacks (Oct. 2, 2010)

New Post-9/11 Terrorist Strategy (Sept. 22, 2010)

Mumbai Attack Could Impact Afghan Mission (Nov. 30, 2008)

Mumbai Attacks


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 16, 2009

Jacob Wetterling Celebration

Patty Wetterling sings with Red Grammer during the “Celebration of Children” concert at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Oct. 17, 2009. (Photo credit: Adam Hammer / St. Cloud Times)

One year ago today, I reported on a concert by Jacob Wetterling’s favorite singer, Red Grammer, to mark the 20th anniversary of Jacob’s abduction on October 22, 1989.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — October 16, 2008

Image: Car bomb attack
Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)

After the Primary Election: Day 37

Two years ago today, on the 37th day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I reported on the murder of a U.S. soldier by an Afghan policeman and sectarian divisions that threaten stability in Iraq.

2 Responses to “U.S. Warned of Mumbai Attacks”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Top al-Qaida Commander Killed Says:

    […] Indian officials have alleged that Ilyas Kashmiri was involved in the 2008 Mumbai siege that killed more than 160 people. He has also been named a defendant in an American court over a planned attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » October 16, 2011 Says:

    […] U.S. Warned of Mumbai Swarm Attacks […]

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