In January 2009, US national David Coleman Headley, 49, travelled from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark. Among the places the Pakistani-American extensively video filmed, was the Danish capital’s most scenic square, Kongens Nytorv or Kings Square. Headley, born Daood Gilani, had more on his mind than the equestrian statues and the frozen ice skating rinks he saw there. The ISI-LeT mole paid extensive attention to the building and the area around the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten near the French embassy. Headley was no ordinary tourist. Just months before, he had meticulously filmed all the locations that were attacked by ten boat-borne Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists.
The attacks of November 26, 2008 had killed 166 persons and put the Pakistani terror group in the international spotlight. The attack on the newspaper offices, retaliation for its publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2005, began as an LeT plot in November 2008. But they wanted to delay it after feeling the heat on 26/11. This is when Osama bin Laden’s group stepped in. Al Qaeda had already signalled their hatred for the Danes with a car bomb attack. On June 2, 2008, a suicide car bomb had exploded outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad killing six persons. Now, they planned a macabre attack on the Danish newspaper itself. Terrorists would storm the building, behead newspaper employees and toss their heads out on the street for effect. But for that, Headley would have to guide them around the target.
In February 2009, Headley travelled with Abdur Rahman Pasha, a retired Pakistan army major turned terrorist, to Waziristan. Here they met the one-eyed Ilyas Kashmiri, a former Pakistan special forces officer now the al Qaeda’s number three. The trio discussed ways to carry out the Danish terror plot. Kashmiri wanted this to be a suicide attack like Mumbai 26/11. In the al Qaeda tradition, wanted the attackers to prepare martyrdom videos before they set out.
In May 2009, the trio met again. Kashmiri passed on the details of a European contact who would provide the money, weapons and attackers for the attack. In July and August that year, Headley again travelled to Copenhagen and prepared a total of 13 surveillance videos of the newspaper office. On October 3, 2009, he was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport even as he was boarding a flight to Pakistan carrying the surveillance videos to Kashmiri. The Danish terror plot was foiled and in January 23, Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison. His deadly idea seems to have tragically inspired the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.