Journalism in the Public Interest

FBI Was Warned Years in Advance of Mumbai Attacker’s Terror Ties

Three years before the Mumbai attack, the U.S. was warned that a key figure in the plot had terror ties.

Fire engulfs the top floor of the Taj Mahal hotel, site of one of the shootouts with terrorists in Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2008. (Pal Pillai/AFP/Getty Images)

A version of this story was published in the Washington Post

Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA
U.S. Embassy Didn’t Pass Along Tip About Headley’s Ties to Terrorists

Three years before Pakistani terrorists struck Mumbai in 2008, federal agents in New York City investigated a tip that an American businessman was training in Pakistan with the group that later executed the attack.

The previously undisclosed allegations against David Coleman Headley, who became a key figure in the plot that killed 166 people, came from his wife after a domestic dispute that resulted in his arrest in 2005.

Courtroom drawing of David Coleman Headley, left. Dec. 9, 2009. (Verna Sadock/AP Photo)In three interviews with federal agents, Headley’s wife said that he was an active militant in the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba, had trained extensively in its Pakistani camps, and had shopped for night vision goggles and other equipment, according to officials and sources close to the case. The wife, whom ProPublica is not identifying to protect her safety, also told agents that Headley had bragged of working as a paid U.S. informant while he trained with the terrorists in Pakistan, according to a person close to the case.

Federal officials say the FBI “looked into” the tip, but they declined to say what, if any, action was taken. Headley was jailed briefly in New York on charges of domestic assault, but was not prosecuted. He wasn’t captured until 11 months after the Mumbai attack, when British intelligence alerted U.S. authorities that he was in contact with al Qaeda operatives in Europe.

In the four years between the wife’s warning and Headley’s capture, Lashkar-i-Taiba sent Headley on reconnaissance missions around the world. During five trips to Mumbai he scouted targets for the attack, using his U.S. passport and cover as a businessman to circulate freely in areas frequented by Westerners. He met in Pakistan with terrorist handlers, including a Pakistani major accused of helping direct and fund his missions, according to court documents and anti-terror officials.

In March, Headley pleaded guilty to charges of terrorism in the Mumbai attacks and to a failed plot to take and behead hostages at a Danish newspaper. He is cooperating with authorities.

It is not clear from the available information whether a different response to the tip about Headley might have averted the Mumbai attacks. It is known that U.S. anti-terror officials warned Indian counterparts several times in 2008 about a possible attack on Mumbai, according to U.S. and Indian officials. The warnings included details such as a threat to the iconic Taj Majal hotel, which became a target, officials say.

But the handling of the Headley case calls into question the progress of American law enforcement and intelligence agencies in improving their coordination and ability to “connect the dots” and deter attacks. It also raises questions about a complicated relationship between American authorities and a confessed terrorist.

Court records and interviews show that Headley served as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration starting in the late 1990s. But a former senior U.S. law enforcement official said Headley’s work as an informant ended before the Mumbai attacks were launched in 2008. He could not say whether Headley was working for the drug agency during the years when he was helping to plan the attack.

“Headley was closed as an informant because he wasn’t producing anything,” the former senior official said. He said he believed Headley’s relationship with the DEA ended “years” before Mumbai, but did not have more precise information.

Federal officials refused to discuss the 2005 tip other than to confirm that the FBI conducted an inquiry into the allegations by Headley’s wife.

“We can confirm there was a lead based on his wife’s tip,” said an official who requested anonymity because of pending legal cases. “We can’t get into details.”

FBI officials said they could not comment on their agency’s role in the case because of ongoing prosecutions in Chicago and overseas. A DEA spokesman declined to comment because of a policy against discussing informants. NYPD officials confirmed the details of the assault arrest, but declined to discuss the terror inquiry.

Anti-terror officials noted that federal authorities in New York City are deluged with tips and warnings about suspected extremists.

“They get half-a-dozen leads a day like this,” a U.S. anti-terror official said. “People ratting out family members, people with grudges. Something like this does not ramp up to the White House.”

The tip came at a time of heightened fears about Pakistani terrorism. A month earlier, al Qaeda suicide bombers trained and directed in Pakistan had struck the London transport system. In previous years, a group of militants in Virginia had been given life sentences for training with and supporting Lashkar. Former Lashkar trainees had also been prosecuted in foiled plots against New York, London and Australia.

Mumbai joins a list of cases in which plotters caught the attention of authorities beforehand: London in 2005, Madrid in 2004, the September 11 attacks. Advance warning signs are part of the landscape of counter-terrorism. Facing many threats and limited resources, authorities must make hard choices, a British spymaster said recently.

“We appear increasingly to have imported from the American media the assumption that terrorism is 100% preventable and any incident that is not prevented is seen as a culpable government failure,” said Jonathan Evans, chief of MI5, in a speech. “This is a nonsensical way to consider terrorist risk.”

Official silence makes it hard to assess what happened in the Headley case. Court documents and interviews depict Headley, who is now 50, as a chameleon-like figure with a taste for risk and a talent for deception. Because of his sophistication and unusual profile, he was a valuable asset to police, spies, criminals and terrorists, officials say.

“Headley’s a fascinating study,” the U.S. anti-terror official said. “I see him as a mercenary, not ideologically driven. He’s not an Islamic terrorist in the classic sense.”

Headley was born Daood Gilani in Washington, D.C. His Pakistani father was a renowned broadcaster. His mother, whose maiden name was Headley, came from a wealthy Philadelphia family.

Gilani moved to Pakistan as an infant and attended an elite military school. Returning to the United States at 17, he married, divorced and slid into the drug underworld and heroin addiction, court records say. He had a fast-talking charm and, strikingly, a green eye and a brown eye. In addition to Urdu and English, he told associates he spoke Pashtun, Farsi and some Arabic.

In 1988, the DEA arrested him in Germany for smuggling heroin from Pakistan, court records show. He cooperated and got four years in prison while his co-defendant got 10.

In 1997, three years after Gilani moved to Manhattan to run two video stores purchased by his family, the DEA arrested him again for another heroin deal. Agents soon obtained his release and he became a prized informant, records show.

“He…helped the DEA infiltrate the very close-knit Pakistani narcotics dealing community in New York,” prosecutors said in a 1998 letter recommending a lenient sentence. He also “traveled to Pakistan…to develop intelligence on Pakistani heroin traffickers.”

Gilani was sentenced to 19 months in prison, but was freed on probation in less than a year. Records show that while he was still on probation he got permission in 1999 for a trip to Pakistan for an arranged marriage. Previously casual about his Muslim faith, he became radicalized. He sought out new recruits and raised funds for Lashkar and began preparing for its mountain training camps, getting corrective eye surgery and taking horse riding lessons, according to a person close to the case who requested anonymity.

Gilani’s mix of extremism and Pakistani nationalism pushed him toward Lashkar, because of its popularity in Pakistan and its fight against India, anti-terror officials say. Although Lashkar is a longtime al Qaeda ally, it still functions largely unscathed in Pakistan, officials say.

After the September 11 attacks, Gilani told associates that he planned to train with Lashkar as part of a secret mission for the U.S. government, the person close to the case said.

“The FBI and DEA have joined forces and I am going to work for them,” this person quoted him as saying. “I want to do something important in my life. I want to do something for my country.”

Federal officials say Gilani was never an FBI informant, however. The DEA and FBI work together on task forces and the DEA sometimes shares informants with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The unusual circumstances of Gilani’s departure for Pakistan reinforce the theory that he may have been working with the government in some capacity at that time. A federal court discharged him from probation in December 2001, well before the scheduled end date in 2004, court records show. Within two months he was training in Pakistan with Lashkar, which had just been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and Pakistan, documents say.

Gilani did five stints in the Lashkar camps over three years, learning about ideology, firearms, combat, counter-surveillance and survival skills, court documents show. He underwent more advanced training than many Western recruits, with one course lasting three months. He reported on his progress at a mountain complex near Muzafarrabad during calls, e-mails and visits to New York and his family home in Lahore, praising the bravery of fellow militants and the medical care he received for an ankle injury, according to the person close to the case.

In December of 2002, Gilani married his girlfriend of eight years in New York. He used return visits to buy ropes, hiking boots and military books and to research prices for night-vision goggles. He also continued to claim he was a paid U.S. informant, the person said.

The court documents that outline his odyssey do not mention the domestic dispute that led his wife to contact authorities in August, 2005. She had demanded a divorce after learning he had a wife and children in Pakistan. They argued at his store and on August 25 she filed an assault complaint alleging that he “struck her several times in the face,” according to officials and a law enforcement document.

On August 26, she phoned a tip line of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, an FBI-led, multi-agency unit with hundreds of investigators. Her tip was assigned an FBI lead number under guidelines developed after the September 11 attacks to improve the response to potential threats. Procedure requires an FBI supervisor to begin an inquiry, decide in 90 days whether it merits a preliminary or full investigation, and report the outcome.

On August 31, New York City police arrested Gilani for alleged misdemeanor assault, according to NYPD officials. He was released on bail and was never prosecuted for reasons that remain unclear, officials say.

Not long after the arrest, task force investigators met three times with his wife. In addition to a detailed account of his activity with Lashkar, she showed them audio cassettes and ideological material and described his e-mails and calls from Pakistan and to individuals whom she thought to be extremists, according to the person close to the case.

It is not known if the investigators ever questioned Headley about his wife’s revelations.

Veteran anti-terror officials described various ways in which the New York task force might have handled the tip.

Investigators could have decided it simply wasn’t worth pursuing, perhaps because Lashkar was seen primarily as a threat to India at that time.

Others believe investigators learned Gilani was still an informant for the U.S. government so they deferred to the existing operation. But federal officials speaking on background say that to their knowledge Gilani was no longer an informant at that point.

Another scenario: investigators may have opened a case and put him under surveillance. If he was an informant, his U.S. handlers could also have tracked his travels and intercepted his communications if they suspected wrongdoing and opened an investigation, officials said.

The tip from Gilani’s wife came at a crucial moment: after he had finished training and soon before he met with terrorist bosses in Pakistan and launched into the Mumbai plot, court documents say.

To conceal his Pakistani Muslim background he went to Philadelphia and legally changed his name to David Coleman Headley in February, 2006. Then the ex-convict with the new name traveled to Pakistan, India, Dubai, Europe and elsewhere, documents show.

In June, 2006, a friend who owned a U.S. immigration consulting firm helped Headley open a Mumbai office of the firm as a cover, court documents say. During the next two years, Headley scouted and videotaped targets, the documents say. He joined an upscale gym, befriended a Bollywood actor and stayed with a Moroccan girlfriend at the Taj Mahal hotel, a prime target of the plot, according to documents and officials.

Headley reported to his handlers at debriefings in Pakistan, according to court documents and officials.

As the plot took shape in 2008, U.S. anti-terror agencies warned Indian counterparts at least three times about a suspected Lashkar plot to attack Mumbai, according to Indian and U.S. officials. There has been speculation in news reports and among anti-terror officials that the U.S. got that information by monitoring Headley, either as an informant, an ex-informant or a suspect.

Officials have not disclosed any link between Headley and the warnings and there may be no connection. But some of the warnings coincided with Headley’s trips to Mumbai and Pakistan.

The first U.S. warning to India came in early 2008 and described general intelligence about Lashkar wanting to strike Mumbai, according to an anti-terror official with knowledge of the warnings. After a scouting trip to Mumbai in April 2008, Headley went to Chicago in May and told his accomplice about an evolving plan for seaborne gunmen to land in front of the Taj Mahal hotel, which he had scouted extensively, court documents show.

Also in May, U.S. officials told their Indian counterparts that Lashkar’s potential targets included the Taj Hotel and nearby sites frequented by foreigners and Americans, according to the anti-terror official. In September, a U.S. warning caused Indian anti-terror officials to meet with officials at the Taj, which beefed up security, according to the official.

In early November, Headley met with his Lashkar handler in Karachi, where militant bosses were making final preparations of the ten-man attack squad, documents say. And on November 18, U.S. officials advised India about a suspicious vessel related to a potential maritime threat to Mumbai, the official said.

Four days later, the gunmen left Karachi by boat. On Nov. 26, they struck the Taj and Oberoi hotels, a Jewish center, a café and a train station. The gunmen singled out Americans, Britons and Jews. The three-day slaughter caught Indian security forces unprepared despite the warnings.

Afterward, Lashkar deployed Headley on a plot against a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. In January, 2009, he visited the newspaper to ask about advertising and shot reconnaissance video, documents say.

Lashkar soon put the plot on hold, so Headley turned to Ilyas Kashmiri, an al Qaeda kingpin in Pakistan, documents say. Kashmiri offered Headley militants in Europe for a plan to take and decapitate hostages at the newspaper and throw their heads out of windows, documents say.

When Headley contacted the militants that summer, British intelligence detected him, officials say. He was arrested by the FBI last October and is now in a federal prison in Chicago. Anti-terror officials say he has become a treasure trove of information about Lashkar and al Qaeda, whose recent suspected Mumbai-style plots in Europe have been linked to Kashmiri.

Last week Interpol announced that it had issued worldwide Indian arrest warrants for Kashmiri and four other top suspects in the Mumbai and Denmark cases, all of whom have been identified by Headley, officials say.

Parts of the story contain nagging gaps. Headley’s motivations are part of the mystery.

“I think he did it for the juice,” the person close to the case said. “Everything he did was for the excitement.”

ProPublica researchers Lisa Schwartz and Nicholas Kusnetz contributed to this report.

They were warned about Pearl Harbor and 911, too, but stopping either one of those didn’t go along with the agenda to get in another war that makes BILLIONS for the Power Elite.

Dominick Mastroserio

Oct. 15, 2010, 5:36 p.m.

Even if our federal spooks and death squads were not pro-actively wasting our tax money chasing environmental and anti-war activists while monitoring the rest of us on the internet - no amount of money from now on will be enough to stem the tide of new terrorists we’ve created with our illegal, mercenary and prolonged, remote-conrol, Imperialst wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

More and more of whom will of course be successful in their vengeful boomerang-blowback attacks against the United States of America.

And then the neocons will have their perpetual war on a global scale.

I’m glad you didn’t hold back any on your comment. I’m not too sure they want a “perpetual war”, though. I think they want their New World Order/one-world-government because some of the fascists, like Obummer,  want it so there are “no more wars” and “no more poverty”. They don’t have a clue that in the New World Order it will pretty much be a feudal state with “kings” and “peasants”.

Do a search on ” super-national sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practised in past centuries” and see what you find as to the Rothschilds wanting to take over the WORLD! It is these Rothschilds who are the Power Elite (PE) who pull Obummer’s strings.

So, who wants Obummer to keep heading the way of these puppeteers?

Terrie Albano

Oct. 15, 2010, 6:05 p.m.

Hmm…let me get this straight, a tip was given to the JTTF that this guy was in with a group listed on the U.S. terrorist list. He was an informant with DEA—and possibly with FBI. Traveled back and forth to Pakistan…a “war on terror” center .. and no flags are raised until the British say something?!

Meanwhile, the JTTF and FBI raid houses of peace activists in Chicago and Minneapolis on a massive fishing expedition. They subpoena them to testify to a grand jury because they traveled to Colombia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories—two places where the U.S. has groups listed on its terror list—and the agencies want info. Plus the FBI and JTTF get to harass and intimidate antiwar activists to boot, and for an added bonus, trample First Amendment rights.

U.S. intelligence agencies cannot effectively fight “terrorism” when they aid, abet and foment criminals and their networks, while at the same time put under “suspicion” peace activists opposed to U.S. policies. But as one previous commenter said: war makes billions…for the power elite.

michael kelley

Oct. 15, 2010, 6:15 p.m.

‘Tis well known that Dwight Eisenhower, in 1961, warned about the growing influence of the Military-Industrial Complex but he conveniently forgot to include the most important member of this TROIKA,  the rotten politicians who to this day still control all these bloody wars because they appropriate the taxpayers money that pays for all of this senseless killing.  These idiots are now in HOG HEAVEN because they are on the verge of obtaining their ultimate goal; A WORLD AT ENDLESS WAR.  All at the fault of the IGNORANT AMERICAN VOTERS.  The major news media have always been enablers of this absolute insanity.

Barry Schmittou

Oct. 15, 2010, 6:52 p.m.

I’m not surprised. I have been to the FBI twice and presented quotes from numerous U.S. Judges that prove Metlife and doctor’s paid by Metlife ignore very serious and life threatening medical conditions, but the FBI would not investigate and told me twice their focus was terrorism.

I have placed the Judges quotes at

Here we are talking about this incident today, which happened in 2008. If people had/have followed this from the beginning, then what appears eye opening now, was already exposed back within hours of the attach. What hasn’t been exposed in this latest article, is all the participants involved. It may be that the author here is writing the piece as an eye opener, but if he really wanted to expose, then he would dig into the story and come up with the other cast of characters also involved.

Like it or not, the intelligence agencies of the countries involved, did a lot of talking back & forth naming who’s who pointing the fingers. If this incident or any others are important to the general American public, then they should really read what’s printed abroad, especially in the effected country[s]. The news information here in the U.S.A. has been stifled since 9/11, on an increasingly bold basis.

For general information. there is a movement afoot to bring the web/blogger’s to a stand still, censorship is the name. If the Government doesn’t approve, then it can’t be said.

Richard McDonough

Oct. 15, 2010, 7:04 p.m.

Such a wonderful organization, ProPublica; such nutty comments, by and large.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 15, 2010, 7:31 p.m.

I’m sorry, but clearly this terrorist was a captalist. He was running drugs and got caught, and convicted. Evidently, he has enough cognitive thought processes going on to not become addicted to them. He was also a business owner in NY?

In a nutshell, our government made the pact with this devil and couldn’t control him, without taking our tax dollars and dumping them upon him. So, in effect, we are his enabler. Notice I said WE, since I believe there is a document somewhere there in Washington, DC that says WE are the government.

He had reconstructive eye surgery? What for? So the retna scan that all Fedral Inmates have became less effective? Makes me wonder why it is not included in pre-flight screenings, we stand in line long enough…

Clearly, this person is still an informant, even if he is in Federal custody now. Maybe his payrate has changed…he is simply informing on others that were guilty of the same crimes in exchange for a lessor sentence.

I think we should release him, directly into the hands of the al Qaeda in India or Pakistan after we broadcast it to the world, when and where we are releasing him. I’m sure his Islamic Bretheren are concerned about his wellbeing. Yes, he has a constitutional right to be released on bond to prepare his case before the court.

I just cannot figure out why, with all the nearly instant communications we have now, we have less brains to use them, collectively.

It is not only our FBI that is deficent in this.

It is very easy in hindsight to prove that someone knew something before the fact that it happened, in court. Doesn’t mean that a judge or jury is listening.

michael kelley

Oct. 15, 2010, 7:50 p.m.

Dear Richard McDonough:  My only reason for getting involved in this conversation is to test these writers on their knowledge of history because those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to commit the same mistakes.  I will always remember Eisenhower’s comment because my mother was a friend and supporter of “IKE”.  Had the voters in 1961 heeded his warning and worked to put the War Mongering Politicians and their lackeys out of business, ‘tis possible the world would today would not be in such dire straits. 

If you wish to discuss economics my research goes back 10,000 to 12,000 years to the beginning of the world economy. I doubt Benanke and his henchmen understand the importance of that.  My primary work is to search for solutions to problems rather than just lay blame and bitch about them.  All of the world’s problems have been happening throughout history wherein any intelligent person can search and find the solutions to the world’s problems.

If your economic knowledge goes back 10-12,000 years, what say you about the Rothschilds?

Know what I love? How the conspiracists turn up almost immediately.

A confederacy of dunces has been at work in the world, for all I can tell.

Remarkable story and excellent reporting and writing.  Hindsight makes everything look simple and makes all sorts of theories plausible.  It’s a bit silly for those of us who nothing about intelligence or criminal investigative work to reach snap judgments.  I’m sure that Fox & Co. will find some way to spin this to their advantage - wait and see.

As a post script, let me say how disappointed I am that the quality of the thinking and writing by those who are commenting does not begin to match that of the reporting itself.  Mostly slogans, talking points and preconceived and predigested rants.  Sad.

Richard McDonough

Oct. 16, 2010, 12:09 a.m.

Yes, I agree.  Great reporting, then the weekenders on leve from the madhouse arrive. I used to complain of the cheapness of paper for bad writing; now it is the ubiquity of the computer for the broadcasting the illinformed.

sankar meetna

Oct. 16, 2010, 1:04 a.m.

great one

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 16, 2010, 1:19 a.m.

I’m still waiting for someone to pop up and tell us how 911 was an inside job…

No matter how many times they screw up, or how many times they break their own policies or the laws, or how many times they cover things up, no one is ever removed from the government for intelligence failures.  That’s a tacit admission that they all know the current system is incapable of protecting the American public, and that the only thing that matters is keeping the dollars flowing to their pockets and pensions.  It’s been 9 years since 9/11 and the government is just as incompetent and uninformed as it was in 2000.  Maybe it’s time to start closing some of these worthless agencies and give the job of counterterrorism to the states and the military, because these Washington federal bureaucrats don’t seem up to the job.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 16, 2010, 7:44 a.m.

Bob, I agree. I just hope and pray we can survive 12 years of incompetent leadership without loosing all of our rights, getting blown up, or going totally into another depression.

The mention of British intelligence, especially the quote of their spy master, seems gratuitous to me. It doesn’t add an iota to the story except to make it look like US intelligence is keystone cops compared to the British.

I have a strong suspicion that those nuggets were dropped into the story by a Brit at ProPublica because, though British intelligence may or may not be “superior” to that of the US, their propaganda machine for self-aggrandizement definitely is.

As for the alarmist headline, there is a very simple reason US intelligence didn’t follow up on the wife’s suspicion: they thought she was mistaking his work with the DEA and his travels to Pakistan on behalf of the agency for something more sinister. Take her and the Brits out of the story, and suddenly there is a totally different story. US intelligence warned their Indian counterparts repeatedly and correctly that there was a terrorist threat on Mumbai.

And thanks for that because I for one did not know US intelligence was that good.

John Henry,
You’re still waiting? “How” is all over the Internet. I’m still waiting for people like YOU to bother to look.

Hints: They closed down the towers for"repairs” a few days before. The people leasing it were relatives of Bush. There is thermite dust in the residue of the buildings. The steel beams were MELTING, though jet fuel doesn’t get hot enough to melt steel. There are eyewitnesses of EXPLOSIONS by the firefighters there. and on and on, IF you bother to look.

But don’t look, stay IGNORANT because “you can’t take the truth!”

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 16, 2010, 9:09 a.m.

Stevor, how many years have you spent welding? Working with metal?

Just cause it’s on the internet, don’t make it true. Lots of misinformation floating around out here.

Ever since Al Gore invented it…

Sebastian, excellent job. This has been suspected all along. You did a great job of digging into the details and bringing out the truth. Thank you for this report. Clearly, the DHS is still doing a gloriously crappy job. It takes billions and billions of unaccounted for $, has built scifi-like systems and processes and yet fails to detect the simplest plots. There is a slight chance that the feds deliberately ignored these tips because Headley was a (former?) informant. Regardless of how they delath with Headly, they should have prevented this disaster. They had the information to do so but miserably failed.

Stevor your a whackadoo.  get a life and stop posting so much and worrying about silly conspiracy theories.  you and your “power elite” can go shove it

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 16, 2010, 2:32 p.m.

BobP, I agree. Seems like we have developed a system of security here that Thomas Jefferson feared, so did Hamilton. Those that drafted these documents that protect our freedoms did so in the face of adversity, losing their holdings, and being sentenced to terrible deaths by challenging the most represive empire the world knew at the time.

We can fly a missle though a single building in a country on the other side of the world, yet we cannot get food or clean water to people in the midst of a natural disaster here in our own country.
If we don’t wake up and take some kind of positive action in this country by voting people into offices that have the right ideas and means and ways to implement them we are doomed as a nation. We can sit by and allow our economy to collapse all the while by buying into the American dream of home ownership, while making others incredibly wealthy.
Then take our tax dollars and bail this system out, prop it up to fail again. I do agree with our current President, we cannot go back and continue to do things as we were before.

There are to many of us that have sacrificed to much to allow those that would take our lives without hesitation in the name of Allah cut our heads off and show them to the world. It could happen to me, but I will not go down without a fight.

We are being invaded from the southern border with drugs and humans. We need leadership and someone out there is brilliant enough to still pull all of this together.

I have a message for all of our Presidents. Keep yourself in Washington DC, stay off the campain trail, stick to your job description (it is found in the constitution) Then you won’t have to worry about how your party is going to get re-elected.

D (too lazy or embarrassed to use your name?),

Is it really so unnerving to you to have somebody rock your rose-colored world?  You must be a Democrat since they are the ones with the record of calling names when they have nothing to counter what others say.

John Henry,

The open air temperature of burning jet fuel is 549.5 degrees F. The temperature to melt steel is 2750 degrees F.

So,  just how STUPID are you that you weren’t able to look those up and tried to say what I said was wrong?

No, the Jet fuel in the WTC could NOT melt the steel in the WTC,  as I and MANY OTHERS have said.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 16, 2010, 4:49 p.m.

Ok, stevor, and the pyramids were built by aliens, not the Egyptians.

You win, I’m stupid.

stevor, just a detail…

While it is true about the open-air burning temperature, you have forgotten it was not just jet fuel that burned that day. There were two buildings full of building materials and other things that burned and ratcheted up the temperature considerably. When you think about all the chemicals in the buildings, you cannot fail to know there’s a lot of things that can explode. Heck, excessive heat can cause things to blow that normally would not.

And that is the key word—“normally”. 9/11 was not a normal occurrence and no one would have expected or have been able to plan for something like what happened. It’s happened and the forensics will help in designing buildings for the future.

The concern I have at the moment is that this man was reported and they allowed him to keep on with his plans, resulting in deaths elsewhere. Of course, looking at the mindset of those days, I don’t think anyone was much interested in the lives of non-Americans.

Your service is much appreciated.

This shows that America can never be a trusted friend and will always remain selfish.

No wonder so many people like me

Greetings all,  The issue: general intelligence operations failed to do the very thing they are set up to do.  Reverse engineering the situation shows the data was solid.  The sources were reliable and the subject was known by the intelligence community.  I am no longer surprised by anything in this intelligence charae.  My source is the testimony of State Undersecretary Congressional Kennedy’s testimony re the “underwear” activist on the Detroit Christmas flight - how he got on the plane. The testimony was on youtube. Where does all the money come from to finance this menage?  I’m still spending almost $3 for a gallon of gas.  Everyone is. Were does all that money go? The only consistent point: the Brits keep telling the US of the clear facts - so that the US cannot ignore them; it has happened in other instances. They force action by the US.  Britain is s small country under an internal seige. They have a small intelligence operation, yet they run rings around the US these days.  As a capitalist, the solution is clear: contract out our intelligence function to the Brits and shut down our expensive, ineffective daycare.  Please think it over - where does all that gas money go?  I wonder at times that every discussion of intelligence operations falls to the polemics of the so-called 9/11 inside job. The distraction invites reuctio ad personal attacks and distracts the concentrated issue.  Why does the West fear so much when it has the force and motive to act?  Where does all that money go? Best regards to all.  Consider that also: do not be swayed by the emotion of discussion.  That is one further method of distraction intentions. Keep on track, stay concentrated no matter the attempts to pull you off the point.  Every crowd has its provocateurs.  Some are sue sponte due to their own beliefs, but many are sent to disrupt by a paymaster.  Stay on point.  Think.  Where does all that money go? So you see, no name calling.  No polemics. Vote as your logic tells you. Truly, best regards to all, as we are all in this together.

thank you propublica.  i’ve suspected for years that pakistanis played a major role in these attacks.

i hope you will now investigate the air india sikh terrorist bombing of 1985.  pakistanis may have played an important role in that plot as well.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 17, 2010, 8:17 a.m.

You must understand global policitcs and have been to other countries to understand the complex themes of how the rest of the world sees us.

Does anyone remember Yassar Arafat? The PLO?

He was a terrorist leader that was intent on making headlines where ever and by what ever means he could. He wanted the country of Palastine, an agreement and accord was reached by the powers of the time and he became the President. Under his leadership, as long as he could hold his internal government in check, his nearest neighbor and enemy, Isreal, had some relief from terrorist.

We could learn volumes from the small nation that had 6 countries declare war on them within a week of their hoisting the Star of David. Isreal defeated all of them. There are Arabs and Hebrews living in adjoining neighborhoods in Jerusalem as this is written. Peoples can co-exist.

We could also learn volumes from Great Britian, and Ireland, ever heard of the IRA? The IRA selectively and continously bombed, burned and caused as much chaos as possible within the borders of as many countries as it took to get attention.

Ever hear of the KKK? A grassroots movement from our own country. Continously bombing, burning, hanging people based on what?

Ever hear of the Nation Of Islam? A movement embedded into our own prision system that leads many young men onto the path of destruction.

Ever hear of the Brown Shirt Nazis? I certainly fear the day the veterans of WWII are no longer an influence on world politics, they learned many lessons on terrorism.

These groups are all still active in one form or another, all have been classified publicly as those that will take your life for attention of the media or to sway opinions by spilling your blood.

I, for one, would rather die on my feet than live on my knees in the face of terrorism.

Yes, great article & No, I disagree with above person, I think there are good comments here.

I think there has to be a time of reckoning for the FBI and the U.S. Intelligence Community.  Yes, there is a cogent need to protect the integrity of sources and methods, but the time has well passed for the “no comment” mentality of the FBI to cease.  The American people, and the global community are entitled to know what happened to the information originally provided against Headley and what if anything, they did with it.  If they deferred attention o the issues because Headley was a DEA informant, then say so.  If they took action but cannot disclose the exact nature of the action because it would jeopardize an ongoing operation, then say so.  Nevertheless, no comment no longer cuts.  Not after the death of nearly 3000 on 9/11/2001, 5w on 7/7/2005, 191 in Madrid on 3/11/2004, and 168 that died in Mumbai in 2008, not to mention countless wounded and the thousands of U.S. and military personnel killed and wounded in the war on terrorism.  The FBI Director must speak now and try to restore confidence in the failed agency.

The two people who warned about their husband being involved with terror were…. women. You know, hysterical, scorned by husband so summoning up witchy wrath of hell. Who needs to listen to them?

...but the conspiracy theorists here may be right too. Google the Project for a New American Century then do a search for “Pearl Harbor” - after pictures of oil lines in the mideast and new military equipment, you’ll find a sentence that goes something like: this will be difficult to achieve and take a long time barring a new Pearl Harbor to galvanize Americans.”

Hey, nip off the top of a World Trade tower to neutralize lefty New Yorkers and galvanize the rest of the US and world. Then there’s Bush reading the goat story and pausing for 7 minutes: um, two towers not one? right into the buildings not the top antenna? did something go wrong and they escalated or am I out of Cheney’s loop?

What most interests me about this article is the massive gap that Sebastian highlights at the end of his piece: what was Headley’s motivation?

Drug abuse, collaboration with the DEA and FBI, a Moroccan girlfriend—this things do not appear to me as trademarks of an Islamist fundamentalist. While fervent Pakistani nationalism might bridge the gap, it seems that Headley either (1) is an outlier in such international organisations, or (2) Headley complicates the stereotype many of us have of the sort of people who comprise international terrorist organisations. It seems to me that Headley’s story corroborates the interpretation of global terrorism that understands it as internal, and born out of, the international espionage, state-sponsored violence that has plagued the World since WWII.

This is superb reporting. As we all need to know, the truth is rarely straightforward or simple…real situations of this ilk are meandering, convoluted, nuanced, and offer incomprehensible, just as is the human race, and individual motivation.

So much more difficult to unravel, report, and understand…until it all explodes.

I found this piece invaluable. Thank you

Richard McDonough

Oct. 17, 2010, 2 p.m.

Mr. Kamen,  I thought It fairly clear that Headley’s drug habits, ego needs, what looks like chemical imbalance, drove him to just “do something” without much discrimination.  It sems clear he was not a committed ideologue but simply wanted to be a “big shot”.
To reiterate what others have said, great reporting.
Also, whemever this subject arises we must look back over our right shoulders to our truly greatest friends (!!) the Saudis, who financially support the extremists throughout the world while supressing dissent and women. Another reason to just say no to oil deprndency.

Thermite: Aluminum, Iron, Igniter (Kerosene, other flammables), high intitiation temperature/pressur.

And people, in all ignorance, are surprised that “thermite” traces existed in collapsed, 100 story office buildings after collision by fully fueled aircraft.  Imbeciles.

John Henry Bicycle Lucas

Oct. 17, 2010, 2:23 p.m.

This is a well written article that brings out many facts. I certainly agree with that.

I do not see the FBI as a failure at all, this agency is an investigative team, the information that they gather has certain protocals to go though, most of us are not in that loop.

You forget, they call it the FBI not the Nostradamus Agency of Connect the Dots.

The FBI is bombarded from all sides with a lot of information, some of it worth investigating some of it not worth investigating.

The best warning we had about the day the towers fell, was when the rental van exploded in the parking deck. If I’m not mistaken, the FBI was pivitol in the investigation and arrest of several terrorist.
Within hours of the explosion, they knew from the scattered pieces of the van what make, year and model van it was and notified all rental agencies in the area to watch for suspicious activity. So when the guy of the right “profile” came in and asked for his deposit back, with no van to turn it, it was pretty easy to make the arrest.

So after the fine work of dedicated people, we have terrorist in custody now, in our prisons, on our soil.

Those of you that are being so critical cannot fathom the lines of defense that try to protect you.

We live in a digital world with microwaves to cook with or communicate with. Instant this and just add hot water that. Lasers that once costs thousands of dollars to produce now cost .98 at the rollback price store. Most of us carry a cell phone, that a few short years ago would have looked like a communcator from the series Star Trec.

With all of this high tech everything, we still cannot name the next terrorist, nor the place or time they will attack.

Just what would you have the FBI accomplish?

michael kelley

Oct. 17, 2010, 3:13 p.m.

Dee Black:  Thanks for your valuable and profound insight into the real cause of the mass confusion caused by a disconnected public attempting to solve serious problems by treating only the symptoms of the problems while ignoring the real causes of the world’s growing problems.

One major cause of civilization’s myriad problems is that so much of what we know and do is determined by faith, blind, religious and otherwise. However, the glaring weakness in faith is that faith, being synonymous with belief, the faithful don’t know if what they believe is true or false. Thus the world is controlled by a, “meandering, convoluted,  nuanced”  and mostly capricious leadership.

This break with rational thought should be so obvious to a thinking person that methinks wise and discerning people will soon be extinct.  ‘Twas untested faith in deep-sea oil well drilling technology that was a major cause of the BP disaster in The Gulf of Mexico. This was so well known among other drillers in the area that one well in the gulf was named “BLIND FAITH.”  There’s much more to this growing global problem.

michael kelley

Oct. 17, 2010, 3:18 p.m.

Thanks for valuable and profound insight into the real cause of the mass confusion caused by a disconnected public attempting to solve serious problems by treating only the symptoms of the problems while ignoring the real causes of the world’s growing problems.

One major cause of civilization’s myriad problems is that so much of what we know and do is determined by faith, blind, religious and otherwise. However, the glaring weakness in faith is that faith, being synonymous with belief, the faithful don’t know if what they believe is true or false. Thus the world is controlled by a, “meandering, convoluted,  nuanced”  and mostly capricious leadership.

This break with rational thought should be so obvious to a thinking person that methinks wise and discerning people will soon be extinct.  ‘Twas untested faith in deep-sea oil well drilling technology that was a major cause of the BP disaster in The Gulf of Mexico. This was so well known among other drillers in the area that one well in the gulf was named “BLIND FAITH.”  There’s much more to this growing global problem.

michael kelley

Oct. 17, 2010, 3:26 p.m.

Dee Black:Thanks for valuable and profound insight into the real cause of the mass confusion caused by a disconnected public attempting to solve serious problems by treating only the symptoms of the problems while ignoring the real causes of the world’s growing problems.

One major cause of civilization’s myriad problems is that so much of what we know and do is determined by faith, blind, religious and otherwise. However, the glaring weakness in faith is that faith, being synonymous with belief, the faithful don’t know if what they believe is true or false. Thus the world is controlled by a, meandering, convoluted,  nuanced and mostly capricious leadership.

This break with rational thought should be so obvious to a thinking person that methinks wise and discerning people will soon be extinct.  ‘Twas untested faith in deep-sea oil well drilling technology that was a major cause of the oil well disaster in The Gulf of Mexico. This was so well known among other drillers in the area that one well in the gulf was named BLIND FAITH.  There’s much more to this growing global problem.

So, you say that if I throw Aluminum, Iron, Igniter (Kerosene, other flammables) into a fire, I’ll have Thermite residue?

So, which agency do you work for?

Ever hear of disposing of garbage by burning it up (the process is called, Plasma something)? Might they have aluminum and steel cans in it? So, you think that would leave Thermite residue?

Where did you take your chemistry courses? With genius displays of brainpower like that to “counter” REAL SCIENCE, no wonder real science is so easily swept under the carpet.

michael kelley

Oct. 17, 2010, 6:28 p.m.

The reason my comment was printed 3 times was because it was rejected the first 2 tries and with a few minor changes was accepted on the third try along with the 2 rejected copies.  I’ve been in email contact with   ProPublica since 2008 and methinks they are as confused as the rest of the upside-down thinkers who run this country.

Carolyn McLuskie

Oct. 17, 2010, 6:39 p.m.

Re Michael Kelley’s comment, Dwight D. Eisenhower actually originally called it what it really IS—a military-industrial-congressional complex. He wanted to show the essential role that the United States Congress plays in the propagation of the military industry. But, it is said, he struck the word congressional in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government. I got this from Wikipedia when I was wondering about the origin of the phrase. For more, see:–industrial_complex
Makes me think fondly of the final moments of the Mark Wahlburg film “Shooter” when the corrupt government official who has overseen the murder of hundreds of innocents pleads for his life: “But I’m a U.S. SENATOR!”
“Exactly,” Wahlburg’s character replies, then shoots him in the head. WE are the terrorists—the biggest, baddest, most sadistic and ruthless on the planet. Just follow the money, as many in this thread have been saying.

Carolyn McLuskie

Oct. 17, 2010, 9:40 p.m.

Hey Michael, Maybe that’s why they didn’t post my response to you. Eisenhower actually called it what it was—the military-industrial-congressional complex. BUT, says Wikipedia, “it is said that the president chose to strike the word congressional in order to placate members of the legislative branch of the federal government.” Check it out here:–industrial_complex
Meanwhile, let’s talk Guatemala, Argentina, Viet Nam, as well as the latest skulls in the belt of the military-industrial-congressional complex. We’ve been doing this for years, destroying democracies and protecting and creating military dictatorships all over the world. Did you know that we DOUBLE our cash gifts to Pakistan whenever it’s a military dictatorship, and cut them in HALF when they’re a democracy? Now why would that be? Oh yeah, democracies don’t tend to want to buy a lot of WEAPONS. They tend to want useless things like health clinics and schools. 
I LOVE ProPublica. They’re the only ones who print the truth—God bless ‘em. As a former journalist from Canada, where press censorship isn’t as prevalent as here, I am relieved to find one news organization that still hues to the principles of the profession.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Pakistan’s Terror Connections

The Mumbai terror attacks have revealed evidence of the extent of the ties of Pakistani intelligence to terrorist groups and the flaws in the U.S fight against Pakistan-based terror.

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