March 18th, 2010
03:14 PM ET

Mumbai terror suspect pleads guilty

David Headley, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday.

A Chicago man charged in two international terror plots, including the 2008 Mumbai, India, attacks, pleaded guilty Thursday to a dozen counts against him, and now will not face a trial.

David Headley, 49, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Chicago to a dozen federal terrorism charges. Authorities said he scouted out targets for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 that killed more than 160 people, and planned an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Headley has agreed to cooperate with the government and testify before a grand jury.

He could have faced the death penalty if convicted, but in exchange for his guilty plea and cooperation, the government has taken execution off the table.

However, he will not be sentenced until after the conclusion of his cooperation, the Justice Department said.

Authorities said Headley attended training camps in Pakistan operated by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and received instructions in 2005 from three members of the group to travel to India to conduct surveillance. The Justice Department said he traveled to India five times leading up to the Mumbai attacks. Six Americans were killed in the attacks.

The United States considers Lashkar-e-Tayyiba a foreign terrorist organization.

Headley also admitted that in early November 2008, a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba member in Karachi, Pakistan, instructed him to scout the Copenhagen and Aarhus offices in Denmark of the Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten newspaper in preparation for an attack. The newspaper had published controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

The alleged plan against the Danish newspaper was never carried out.

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soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Srini

    David Headly ( Who changed his name to be more americanized) was caught and we are glad that he is nailed, Unfortunately the Terrorist who was caught in Mumbai duuring the shootout is still langushing in Indian Jails (Past 16 Months) by changing his stories almost every other day and to this date he is not prosecuted. Hpoefully the American system will start unfolding the known truth to the pakistanis and nail the other culprits of ISI & LET (Lashkar-E-Toiyba) too. These guys dont deserve to live.

    Srini.

    March 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BB

    This is not what is expected from a country like US...a terror mastermind confessing of 12 counts of charges and responsible of murdering 100's escapes trial? Would the same thing happened if this man killed people in Chicago instead of Mumbai??????Shame on the country's judiciary system

    March 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cathy Kayser

    So the guilty go free – what a great criminal injustice system we have in the US!

    March 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ian Bosseau

    He should still be charged and locked away for life. Showing terrorist, and the worst kind at that, our own, such compassion is laughable. Had this been someone from another country he'd be executed within 6 months.

    March 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Holly

    Why is there no mention to the fact that this man is a Pakistani?

    March 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. clee

    He is a CIA guy turned pakistani muslim, shame the government is covering him but not handing him over to India for killing innocent people.

    March 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Doug

    I'm in the military I am baffled why someone would engage in this behavior. Especially someone raised in a country where we have freedom of religion. I know many Muslims in uniform that are as patriotic an American as any other and they would never dream of acting out like this in the name of religion. Why, when there are so many moderate Muslims or other religions for that matter, do people want to engage in this hate filled stupidity?

    March 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    Gee, looks like the justice system doesn't really work after all. This guy is cooperating with authorities and helping to put other bad guys behind bars? This must be a typo.

    Give him to Liz Cheney and Dick and let them waterboard him for a couple of months. Then we will get some REAL actionable intel out of this guy.

    Shame on the DOJ for ever having a sensible conversation with an enemy combatant. Shame on them for using the tools of 200+ years of jurisprudence to extract a guilty plea from this man and prompting his cooperation. Shame on them for not breaking the law they have sworn to uphold and committing war crimes to get this guy to say things that probably aren't even true (lilke, where the WMDs are hidden).

    I expect Rush Babe and Glenn Beck will spend at least two weeks vilifying the Obama administration for not getting nasty with this man.

    March 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jojo

    He should be tried for his involvement.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shubs

    Surprisingly (or not), this is not big news in the US.
    This is a guy, who is more or less the brains behind the most brazen terrorist attack in India. And there is hardly any press coverage of the machinations behind this terrorist's trial in the United States.

    Headly (aka Daood Gilani) pleading guilty to get away with a lighter sentence, more or less confirms what Indian Intelligence and even govt officials have been saying for a long time...that he was a CIA operative who penetrated the LeT network in Pakistan, before turning rouge. That US Intelligence will not hand over one of their own to India was a given, once this fact came to light.

    Indian agencies were prevented from talking to this guy by the US earlier and chances of an extradition are almost nill after this fiasco. It boggles the mind!! The United States not handing over this terrorist to India is akin to India holding Bin Laden in custody and refusing to hand him over to the US.

    It is sickening that a nation fighting a so-called war-on-terror can be two-faced to this extreme. India needs to learn its lesson and learn it fast. It needs to clean up its neighborhood, by itself. Pakistani blackmail of the United States is not going to stop, and the United States will not jump in to clean anybody else's mess.
    Another Mumbai-style attack and things are not going to look good for Pakistan, and by extension, US's interests in that region. The Indian public are in no mood for forgiveness, especially after this Headley whitewash.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Abraham Weinstein

    why are we giving him the luxury of trial? we need to hang this guy at the middle of Chicago... if you see the attacks in mumbai you would feel the same thing...

    March 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin

    Send him to India and let him face justice!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    Great NEWS. I hope he gives out several other names in Pakistan. Then let us see what the US Ally Pakistan does after that.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kola

    now tell me, is USA a terrorist nation? When some terrorist were caught of Pakistan original, everyone jumped to claim, whole pakistan is terrorist nation.
    What now?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lazerjp

    Terrorists are coming from US too... 🙁

    March 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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