The wife of an American citizen who scouted targets for the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, alerted the FBI three years earlier that her husband was an active member of the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), according to media reports. David Coleman Headley's wife reported that he had trained in Lashkar camps in Pakistan and had purchased night vision goggles and other equipment for the terrorist group. The LeT is believed to be behind the Mumbai attacks.
Headley's wife, an American-born New York makeup artist, had three separate meetings with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force after a dispute that resulted in Headley's arrest by New York City Police on charges of domestic assault. Headley was later released on bond after federal officials determined the information was inadequate to legally justify opening an investigation. ProPublica, an investigative news agency, first reported the tip on its website Friday and in the Washington Post on Saturday. ProPublica did not identify Headley's wife by name due to concerns about her safety.
In 2007, less than a year before the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans, Headley's second wife, Faiza Outalha, a young Moroccan woman, warned officials at the American Embassy in Pakistan that her husband was plotting an attack in Mumbai. Outalha showed embassy officials a photograph of herself with Headley at the Taj Mahal hotel, one of the targets of the Mumbai attacks. Hotel records confirm Headley and his wife stayed at the Taj hotel in April and May 2007, as part of several reconnaissance missions to India to scout potential sites for terrorist attacks under instructions from LeT.
In March, Headley pleaded guilty to 12 federal terrorism charge that were brought against him, including conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder Americans and others in India, and to provide material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. He has been cooperating with government authorities since his arrest in October 2009.
Headley is reported to have been married at least three times and for a brief period he was married to all three wives at the same time. His third wife was a conservative Pakistani Muslim. According to court records, Headley served as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration in the 1990s as part of the agency's efforts to bust a drug smuggling ring in Pakistan. A high-level U.S. law enforcement said Headley ceased working as an informant for the agency before the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. The official however did not specify whether Headley worked as an informant during the years he was training in Pakistani terrorist camps and planning the attacks.
It is unclear whether the information provided to federal agents by Headley's former wives could have averted the Mumbai attacks. Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, claims the U.S. government repeatedly issued warning to Indian authorities about potential attacks: "The United States regularly provided threat information to Indian officials in 2008 before the attacks in Mumbai," Hammer told the Los Angeles Times. "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," he added.