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FRONTLINE: A Perfect Terrorist

The Taj Mahal Hotel engulfed in smoke during the 2008 attack on Mumbai.
Courtesy of REUTERS/Arko Datta
The Taj Mahal Hotel engulfed in smoke during the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

Airs Friday, January 13, 2012 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

It has been called the most spectacular terror attack since 9/11. On the night of November 26, 2008, 10 men armed with guns and grenades launched an assault on Mumbai with a military precision that left 166 dead. India quickly learned the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group associated with Pakistan’s secretive intelligence agency, the ISI.

But what wasn’t known then was that a Lashkar/ISI operative had been casing the city for two years, developing a blueprint for terror. His name was David Coleman Headley and he’d been chosen for the job because he had the perfect cover: He was an American citizen.

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In "A Perfect Terrorist," FRONTLINE and ProPublica reporter Sebastian Rotella team up to investigate the mysterious circumstances behind Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

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In "A Perfect Terrorist," FRONTLINE and ProPublica investigate the mysterious circumstances behind David Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.
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David Coleman Headley, an American who has confessed to helping plan the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, told a Chicago court that he plotted a similar attack against a Danish newspaper with the support of a Pakistani terror group and the country’s intelligence agency, the ISI.