U.S. citizen admits role in Mumbai attacks

15:28, March 19, 2010      

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An American man who sought targets for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks pleaded guilty Thursday to a dozen criminal charges and agreed to help prosecutors and intelligence analysts probe other possible targets overseas.

National security experts consider Headley, who was arrested in a Chicago airport in October, one of the most dangerous and knowledgeable terrorist operatives they have apprehended on American soil.

More than 160 people, including six Americans, died in the Mumbai attacks which Headley is said to have helped organize. He acknowledged attending training camps sponsored by the Pakistani extremist group Lashkar-i-Taiba and of changing his name from Daood Gilani to avoid scrutiny in India.

He made five trips to Mumbai, where he videotaped potential targets and used a global-positioning device to help the plotters. This information was used, prosecutors said, to aid the attack on the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, a Jewish cultural center and a train station in November 2008.

Headley has also outlined his role in a plan to kill a cartoonist and other employees at a Danish newspaper that had published derogatory drawings of the prophet Muhammad. He allegedly met twice last year with a retired Pakistani military official, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, and Ilyas Kashmiri, who was in direct contact with senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Both men are charged with Headley in the case, but neither is in U.S. custody.

In a separate case, a woman who used the Internet handle "JihadJane" appeared in a federal courtroom on Thursday pleading not guilty to charges that she was involved in a separate plot to kill a Swedish artist. Forty-six-year-old Colleen Renee LaRose who allegedly told her co-conspirators that she could work under the radar of law enforcement because of her blond hair, light eyes and small frame, is scheduled for trial in May.

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