David Headley's story: Know how he became a terrorist
David Headley, whose life was no less than a typical Indian Bollywood movie, was a student at US military school, before he came in contact with LeT group.
New Delhi: Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taoiba terrorists David Headley was a student at military high school in Philadelphia and hailed from a well-do family. With Pakistani father and American mother, Headley's life was no less than a typical Indian Bollywood movie.
Here, we take a look at how David Headley became a convict for helping Pakistani terrorists plan the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, that claimed at least 168 lives.
Born to an American mother and Pakistan-national father, David Headley was born as Daood Sayed Gilani on June 30, 1960. His father Saleem Gilani was a renowned Pakistani diplomat and broadcaster. His mother, Alice Serrill Headley, originally from Pennsylvania was one of the prominent figures in Philadelphia high society and worked as a secretary at the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
Born into a well-do family, Headley's family soon left United States after his birth and settled in Pakistan city, Lahore. However, Headley's mother Alice Serrill faced much difficulty in adapting Pakistani culture, and thus moved back to Pennsylvania, leaving back her husband and son in Lahore.
According to Pakistani custody law, Serrill was forced to leave her son and husband in Lahore, before leaving for Pennsylvania. After offcially separating from Saleem Gilani, she went through four more marriages and spent most of her time in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan.
Headley did not share a very healthy relationship with her step-mom and in 1977, at the age of 17, he left to settle with her biological mother, Alice Serrill in Philadelphia, United States.
Gilani enrolled at a military high school, and later at Community College of Philadelphia, but left both the institutions, without the degree. In 1985, he married a Pennsylvania State University student, but separated with her two years later, owing to huge cultural differences.
Due to his frequent trips to Pakistan, he came in contact with drug smugglers and in 1988, he was arrested by Frankfurt police, after 2 kilogram heroine were recovered from his suitcase. In 1997, Headley was once again arrested for possessing drug, meant to be smuggled to another country from Pakistan.
During one of his smuggling trips, Headley smuggled at least half a kilogram drugs out of Pakistan, with the help of Pakistani army doctor, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who Headley knew from military school. His friendship with Rana brought him an unwitting shield over the course of his career as a drug-trafficker.
In 1997, Headley married a Pakistani woman named Shazia and fathered two children with her. At the same time, he took a job of a DEA informant in New York City. Despite working for a US government agency, He actively raised money and recruited new members for Lashkar terror group.
In February 2002, after releasing from prison, Headley went to Lashkar training camp and pursued a three-week course on Lashkar ideology and jihad.
By 2005, Headley's training with Lashkar reached to a stage where he was keen to join jihadis in Kashmir to fight against India. However, his proposal was rejected by the Lashkar and gave him other 'assignments'.
The same year, he changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani to David Coleman Headley to get Indian visa after instructions from his Lashkar handler Sajid Mir, whom he met during the training.
In 2002, while undergoing arms training at a camp at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan, he came in contact with LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, whom he befriended. Headley carried out several terror-related activities, under his instruction.