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. Shantanu

    Absolutely shocked and disgusted that this criminal is going to escape the Death Penalty. This sends a very wrong message and is an insult to the memory of all those innocent folks who died in the Bombay attacks in 2008. This episode has the potential to escalate into a diplomatic row with India.

    Let's say that India, by some sheer luck, manages to apprehend Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari. While trying the duo in the Indian courts, OBL agrees to testify against Zawahiri in exchange for a lighter sentence. How do you think that Americans would react to that arrangement?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TJ

    You agree that you killed 160 people and were indulged in a plan to kill more people and Government says " you know what, since you agreed that you killed innocent people; you LIVE!!!!!". This is like a New Opportunity to other Wrong Doers. Ridiculous

    March 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bervick

    So let me get this right. : "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."

    If Osama did plea similarly, he would NOT be executed ??. Yeah right !

    What kind of double-standard is this. The US should allow him to be extradited to India. There was so much outrage when the Panam bomber was let loose. And that outrage was justified. Just as our outrage in this foolish act of pardon, yes pardon, is justified.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hypocrisy

    Why people don't understand this?
    Heard stories about double agent before. Simple.

    If this guy is given to Indians or death penalty, what will happen to all those duoble agents committing crime while on FBI pay roll?

    He was a CIA and FBI agent who went rogue.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. F. Thomas Cain

    Why is it that we no longer hang or sue firing squads against individuals found guilty of sedition, treason or other traitorous acts? We have become a weak nation that our enemies laugh at. We are like the blind one eyed cyclops in the Odessy, stumbling around incapable of using our power.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Where is justice helllo??

    Since he, US citizen, belong to US, US has a responsiblity to provide all the information to India and help India bring all criminals behind mumbai attack to justice. They must also all India to interrogate this guy to get all clues.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bobby

    He is from Pakistan immigrated to US and changed his name to David Headiy.
    He is responsible for 170 deaths including americans in Mumbai. He should be given death penalty.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mmmoke

    INDIA has yet to prosecute people and government officials who were involved in the MASSACRE of 3000 innocent muslim men, women and children in Gujarat. This whole episode may be connected to that atrocity.People were not merely shot and killed in Gujarat, women and children were hacked to pieces in front of their own families. No one, out of hundreds of people involved were ever brought to trial.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. George K

    Why is US making such a huge blunder? Showing to the whole world how empty its promise of "fight against terror" is!
    If 160 people killed in foreign land by our fella he gets off without trial. If it was otherway round, they would be languishing in some G Bay without trial. WoW that is called global leadership against terrorism!!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sugandha

    And by the way, a big thank you to everyone who has shown their support in their comments.

    The world doesn't need any more incidents, and more will happen if we let people like these go free after a few years.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pablo

    Hey guys..he is not a convert to ISLAM he is a Pakistani who changed his name to David..he was always a muslim...a religion of peace (whatever)

    March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Prof. shah

    Well he got the insider information from Pakistan with all the training he got so far so lets use his skills and turn the table and then get rid of him.

    He deserves same as anyone else but get something out of him before he dies!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    This animal needs to face charges in the land that he terrorized.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Piyush Garyali

    This is no justice to the 160 people who lost their lives. This is insanity. He deserves the death penalty as is no less guilty than Saddam or Osama or any other living terrorist.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gte

    He changed his name to a more "American' sounding one before starting his career in terrorism. His actual name is Daood Sayed Gilani.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
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