NBC news reports that US officials were warned not once but twice about a US businessman who was planning to launch terrorist attacks against targets in Mumbai. But unlike the first warning, the second was never passed on to the FBI.
The second warning, which came from David Coleman Headley‘s second wife, came less than a year before the Mumbai attacks of November, 2008. Those attacks involved a series of coordinated bombings of at least 10 locations over three days and resulted in 166 deaths injuries in India’s largest city. The first warning came two years earlier, from Headley’s ex-wife.
The FBI arrested Headley in Chicago last year and accused him of running reconnaissance missions for the Mumbai attacks. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
…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.
US has denied they had specific information about the attack:
“The United States regularly provided threat information to Indian officials in 2008 before the attacks in Mumbai,” said Michael Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council. “Had we known about the timing and other specifics related to the Mumbai attacks, we would have immediately shared those details with the government of India.”