“A British al-Qaida sympathiser living in Derby volunteered last year to help with a terrorist attack on targets in Denmark including the offices of the newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, secret documents obtained by the Guardian reveal. A second British man is alleged to have handed over cash for the plot.
The two men were visited in August 2009 by David Headley, an extremist born in Pakistan but raised in the US, where he is now in custody. Headley, who was arrested two months later, was working for Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior Pakistani militant with links to al-Qaida.
Kashmiri, whom al-Qaida leadership figures have named as part of Osama bin Laden’s group, told Headley to focus on a plan to attack the offices of the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which had published controversial cartoons of the prophet in 2005. He gave Headley $1500 (£954) to finance a surveillance trip. More general attacks in Denmark were also discussed. Headley said he understood that they might involve suicide bombings.
According to the documents, Kashmiri told Headley the two men in Derby – who were originally from Kotli, in north-east Pakistan – would help him. It transpired that one of the men had fallen out with Kashmiri, accusing the militant leader of allowing his son to steal funds for jihad, but he did agree to provide money for the mission; the other man “was available” for the attacks in Denmark, the documents reveal. These are based on 34 hours of interviews with Headley conducted by Indian investigators this summer.
They also describe in detail how Headley, having been deeply involved with the Lashkar-e-Taiba group in Pakistan and having conducted repeated surveillance trips for the Mumbai attacks, became involved with Kashmiri and, at one remove, al-Qaida. After spending six years with Lashkar, Headley said he became “mentally distanced” from the group and felt that the global agenda of Kashmiri and al-Qaida suited him better.”