U.S. didn't connect American to Mumbai attacks

Obama briefs India's Prime Minister on the findings about what U.S. knew about bomb plotter

By Associated Press
Published November 8, 2010 2:16PM (EST)

White House officials said Monday that U.S. intelligence did not connect an American man to the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks he later pleaded guilty to helping plot.

Officials are expected to soon release the findings of an investigation into what the intelligence community knew about David Headley. The White House said President Barack Obama first wanted to brief India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the findings during his three-day visit here.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security director for strategic communications, said Monday that while the U.S. had information about Headley, that information was not connected to the planning of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

"What we have is various different kinds of information about David Headley that, again, weren't specific to a particular plot in India," said Rhodes, adding that much of the information was based on suspicions various people had about Headley.

Headley pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to laying the groundwork for the attacks. He told Indian interrogators in June that Pakistani intelligence officers were deeply intertwined with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed in the attack,

Headley was born in the United States but spent most of his childhood in Pakistan, moving back to America as a teenager to be with his mother after his parents divorced. He joined Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2001 after hearing a lecture by the group's leader, Hafeez Saeed, on the need for holy war.

Under a deal with prosecutors in the United States, Headley will not face execution if he continues to cooperate with their terrorism investigation. He could face up to life in prison and a $3 million fine when he's sentenced. As part of the plea bargain, the U.S. government agreed not to extradite him to India, Pakistan or Denmark for the charges for which he has admitted guilt.

Associated Press

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