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David Coleman Headley

Born: 30 June 1960;

Birth name: Daood Sayed Gilani;

Place of Birth: Washington, D.C., U.S.;

Nationality: American;

Occupation: Video store proprietor; DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) informant;


David is an American terrorist of Pakistani origin, and a spy who conspired with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

He made periodic trips to Pakistan for LeT training while simultaneously working as an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but this is disputed.

Under Mir’s direction, Gilani went to Philadelphia and legally changed his name to David Coleman Headley, taking his mother’s surname. The name change would make it easier for Headley to hide his Pakistani ancestry and pass as a Westerner, leading anyone he encountered to assume he was a tourist rather than a terrorist.

Major Iqbal (a mysterious figure who is believed to have coordinated Lashkar activity through his capacity as an ISI officer) and Sajid Mir reportedly became Headley’s ISI handlers and oversaw his training in espionage techniques in preparation for a reconnaissance mission to Mumbai.

He befriended LeT’s spiritual leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and committed himself to the group’s war on India, which was supported by the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier intelligence service.

Under the direction of Lashkar chiefs, Headley performed five spying missions in Mumbai to scout targets for the attacks, which killed 168 people.

The following year, he performed a similar mission in Copenhagen, Denmark, to help plan an attack against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which had published cartoons of Muhammad. He was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago while on his way to Pakistan in October 2009.

On January 24, 2013, Daood was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

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