The mantra long invoked to justify American military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq we're fighting extremists there so we don't have to fight them here has taken a beating of late. In September came the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado man accused of plotting perhaps the gravest U.S. terrorist attack since 9/11. November saw Major Nidal Malik Hasan gun down 13 people including 12 of his fellow U.S. soldiers at Ford Hood, Texas, in the deadliest assault on a military base in U.S. history. The latest blow came Dec. 7, when the U.S. Justice Department filed new charges against David Headley, 49, an American citizen arrested in October for allegedly helping plot a 2008 killing spree by Pakistan-based militants in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people, including six Americans. Headley is also charged with plotting terrorist attacks against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whose 2005 publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked protests throughout the Muslim world. The 12 criminal counts, including six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India, expand the government's case against Headley and drive home the unsettling idea that the U.S. can no longer rely on its borders to keep extremism out.
Born Daood Gilani in Washington, D.C., in 1960 to a Pakistani father and an American mother. Lives with his wife and children in Chicago.
After his parents' divorce, returned to Pakistan with his father and was raised in a traditional Muslim household until moving to Philadelphia at age 17 to live with his mother.
Attended the Community College of Philadelphia, but left school before receiving a degree.
Worked in a bar and a series of video stores after leaving school.
Convicted on heroin-smuggling charges in 1998; served 15 months in prison. Headley later worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, in part to avoid a lengthier jail sentence.
Allegedly received training from Kashmiri separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from February 2002 to December 2003. The group, which aims to drive Indian forces out of the disputed territory of Kashmir, is considered a foreign terrorist operation by the U.S. government.
Changed his name to David Headley (Headley being his mother's maiden name) in 2005. Authorities say the change was made to ease travel and make him seem more American while working for LeT.
Since his alleged training with LeT, has traveled frequently between Pakistan, India, the Middle East and the U.S.
Visited India more than nine times in three years and allegedly scoped out Mumbai Harbor in 2008, looking for places for the Mumbai attackers to land their boat in advance of their Nov. 26 assault.
Claimed to have been employed by First World Immigration Services, a company owned by Pakistan-born Canadian citizen Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Rana was arrested on conspiracy charges.
"Some of us are saying that 'terrorism' is the weapon of the cowardly. I will say that you may call it barbaric or immoral or cruel, but never cowardly ... Courage is, by and large, exclusive to the Muslim nation."
From a February 2009 e-mail to high school classmates, one of many he wrote defending Muslim extremism (New York Times, Nov. 22, 2009)
"The best way for a man to die is with the sword."
In an e-mail defending the beheading of a Polish engineer by Taliban fighters in Pakistan (New York Times, Nov. 22, 2009)
"He came in, talked to people, talked to Dr. Rana, worked on the computer a little bit and didn't say a lot."
Raymond Sanders, an immigration lawyer who rented office space from Headley's co-defendant, Tahawwur Hussain Rana (Washington Post, Nov. 20, 2009)
"You might as well be telling me my nephew is being charged with 9/11. That's like pouring cold water inside me. He's been in trouble before, but we thought something like this was beyond his character."
William Headley, David Headley's uncle (New York Times, Dec. 7, 2009)
"He would clearly state he had contempt for infidels. He kept talking about the return of the 14th century, saying Islam was going to take over the world."
Lorenzo Lacovara, a former worker at a Philadelphia bar run by Headley's mother (New York Times, Nov. 22, 2009)