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WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE: The Khyber Pass, The Bionic Woman & The Clash Of Civilizations

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[Photo by SYNDPROD]

WASHINGTON POST: NEW DELHI – Police in India suspect that David Coleman Headley, a man with Philadelphia ties recently arrested in Chicago on terrorism charges, conducted scouting missions of the targets in last November’s attacks in Mumbai, including the city’s main train station, the popular Leopold Cafe, and the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident hotels. Hotel records show that Headley stayed in both hotels in 2007, authorities said. He also allegedly posed as a Jew to visit one of the other eventual targets, Chabad House, home to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish center, said a high-ranking official involved in the case, who is not authorized to discuss the matter with the media and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Mumbai attacks killed 166 people.

The U.S.-born Headley, 49, who had lived in Pakistan and changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, was khyber_founder.jpgarrested Oct. 3 along with Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, a Pakistani-born businessman and Canadian citizen. The two were charged with plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that had printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, according to criminal complaints unsealed in federal court in Chicago. Indian authorities are investigating whether Rana as well as Headley had a role in the Mumbai attacks, government officials here said. Headley is the son of a prominent Pakistani diplomat and the late Serrill Headley, founder and former owner of the Khyber Pass pub/restaurant in Philadelphia’s Old City section. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Ms. Headley, a red-haired, green-eyed woman, told friends she married an “Afghan prince” but then had to flee Kabul after he was murdered. She arrived back in Philadelphia, friends said, in the early 1970s, taking different office jobs and dating wealthy suitors until one of them lent her money to buy an old bar. She turned it into the Khyber Pass, decorated with billowing Afghan wedding tents and stocked with exotic beers. In 1977, Pakistan’s government was overthrown in a military coup, and Ms. Headley, friends said, feared for her children. She traveled to Pakistan, withdrew her son from the Hasan Abdal Cadet College and brought him to live with her, a move recorded by The Philadelphia Inquirer. (Her daughter, Syedah, stayed behind with her father for several years.)

“He has never been alone with, much less had a date with a girl, except the servant girls of his household,” the article said, referring to the teenage Daood Gilani. “But he has just this day found a cricket team to join. And he has just this day, after watching American TV, said to his mother in his soft Urdu-English that she is to him like the Bionic Woman.”

According to family friends, the teenager soon rebelled against his mother’s heavy drinking and multiple bionic_woman_lunchbox.jpgsexual relationships by engaging in the same behavior. “Those were the days when girls, weed and whatever were readily available,” Jay Wilson, who worked at the Khyber Pass, wrote in an e-mail message from England. “Daood was not immune to the pleasures of American adolescence.”

Later, said Lorenzo Lacovara, another former worker at the bar, Daood Gilani began expressing anger at all non-Muslims. “He would clearly state he had contempt for infidels,” Mr. Lacovara said in a telephone interview from New Mexico. “He kept talking about the return of the 14th century, saying Islam was going to take over the world.” Ms. Headley tried to help her son straighten out his life. In 1985, she put him in charge of the Khyber Pass, but he proved to be such a poor manager that they lost the bar a couple of years later, friends of the family said. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The WTF On The Mumbai Attacks

PREVIOUSLY: To Live And Die In Mumbai

PREVIOUSLY: Murder & Mayhem In Mumbai, Gunmen Kill 172, 370 Wounded, Americans And Brits Targeted

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