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Asia-pacific

Pakistani-American pleads not guilty to planning Mumbai, Danish attacks

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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-09

A Pakistani-American pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to helping plan the deadly November 2008 attacks in Mumbai and a separate attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

AFP - A Pakistani-American pleaded not guilty Wednesday to helping plan the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and plotting to attack a Danish newspaper which published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
   
David Coleman Headley, 49, appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit, shackled at the ankle, accused of being a scout for two different Pakistani-based terrorist groups who used a friend's Chicago-based immigration company as a cover for his surveillance activities in India and Denmark.
   
His attorney John Theis entered the not guilty plea on Headley's behalf and waived his right to a grand jury trial. The next hearing was set for January 12, with the case moving now towards a full trial.
   

In an alleged plot that reads like a movie thriller, Headley is accused of making trips to Mumbai over a period of almost two years, even taking boat tours around the city's harbor to scope out landing sites for the attackers, who killed 166 people including six Americans.
   
He changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 so he could "present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani," charging documents said.
   
He was arrested in October over a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed incendiary pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, but on Monday US justice officials released a raft of new charges related to the Mumbai attacks.
   
Headley has been charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark and to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots.
   
He is also accused of providing material support to Lashkar, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India.
   
The Washington-born son of a former Pakistani diplomat, Headley allegedly had told investigators he had been working with the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) since 2002.
   
Prosecutors said Headley made five lengthy trips to Mumbai to conduct extensive surveillance of targets.
   
During those trips he reportedly befriended Bollywood stars and developed a reputation as a fitness fanatic while staying in an expat enclave in south Mumbai near the US Consulate so as not to arouse suspicion.
   
Indian security analysts believe Headley could be the vital missing link in the bloody 60-hour siege which began on November 26.
   
The question about whether the 10 heavily-armed gunmen had specialist help to land undetected by sea and strike their targets with such precision has been posed ever since the attacks.
   
India and Washington blamed the deadly rampage on Pakistan's banned militant group LeT. The attacks stalled a fragile four-year peace process between the two nuclear-armed south Asian rivals.
   
Charging documents also indicated Headley was so eager to kill a Danish cartoonist and editor that he began working seriously on that plot two months before the Mumbai attacks.
   
Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's highest circulating daily, triggered a furor in the Muslim world by publishing 12 cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in 2005.
   
Headley allegedly told prosecutors he pretended to be interested in buying ads in the newspaper so he could tour the offices in Copenhagen and Arhus "in preparation for an attack," charging documents said.

Date created : 2009-12-09

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