Boston bomber, David Headley escaped security US radar

Washington, April 24 (IANS) The Boston Marathon bombing “is the fifth case”, including the case of David Headley, a key plotter of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, where potential terrorists have survived the American security scrutiny, according to a key US lawmaker.

The Boston Marathon bombing “is the fifth case I’m aware of where a person was brought to the attention of the FBI. … The FBI examined them and felt they were no threat and they went on to carry out terrorist murders,” Republican House member Peter King told MSNBC.

King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, cited what he described as a pattern in which the US government looks into suspicious individuals who later are charged with terrorist acts.

His statement came after the FBI acknowledged interviewing Tamerlan Tsarnaev-surviving suspect Dzokhar’s older brother, who died while fleeing the police-at the request of Russian officials in 2011., a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times, which “fact-checks” statements by public figures said it checked with King’s office, and a spokesman confirmed the four previous examples he was referring to: David Headley, Anwar al-Awlaki, Abdulhakim Muhammed and Nidal Hasan.

Here’s a summary of their cases, as outlined by

* David Headley. Headley, a Pakistani-American born as Daood Gilani, is serving a 35-year sentence for helping organize scouting missions for a 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Headley had served as a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency and was sent on one mission to Lahore, Pakistan, in which he infiltrated heroin trafficking networks.

But later, his actions raised questions among friends and acquaintances. “A former girlfriend of Headley’s told a bartender named Terry O’Donnell that he wanted to go to Pakistan to fight alongside Islamic militants,” ProPublica reported.

O’Donnell, it said, subsequently contacted an FBI-led task force that was investigating the Sep 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On Oct 4, 2001, “two Defence Department agents working for the task force questioned him in front of his DEA handlers at the drug agency’s office.”

* Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki, a US-born citizen of Yemeni descent, was hunted by the US and killed in a drone strike in September 2011.

He was reportedly a key adviser, and even an instigator, in several terrorist incidents involving US targets, including the foiled attempt to plant a bomb in New York City’s Times Square in 2010.

* Abdulhakim Muhammed. Muhammed, a convert to Islam who was born Carlos Bledsoe, pled guilty to killing Pvt. William Long and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula outside a US Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009. He is now serving life in prison.

* Nidal Hasan. Hasan, a psychiatrist and major in the US Army Medical Corps, is the only suspect in the Fort Hood shootings and is awaiting a military trial that could bring the death penalty.

Noting that there are “at least four prior instances – Anwar al-Awlaki, David Headley, Abdulhakim Muhammed and Nidal Hasan – that fit the pattern of someone being on the government’s radar screen and later allegedly committing terrorist acts,” rated King’s statement as “Mostly True.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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