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.

Post by:
Filed under: India • World
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Pankaj

    What concerns me even more is that this person was not handed over to Indian government for questioning. This guilty plea is a double standard in treating terror suspects who conduct terrorist acts on foriegn soil. Once again, it goes to show that US lives are always more valuable than lives of non-US citizens. I think death penalty is too easy for this guy. Hand him over for questioning to authorities of every country who wants to fight terrorism.

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

    I have a two simple questions to Eric Holder.

    1. If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were to plead guilty to 9/11 attacks and promise to 'co-operate' with the investigators, will you agree to waive him death penalty. I am sure will not and should not. Then why leave this Headley ? Are foriegn lives cheaper than american lives ?

    2. If Osama bin Laden is captured in Pakistan (which I am sure wont happen because the US keeps getting fooled by the pakis all the time), and the pakistani prosecution makes a similar deal with osama – no death sentance for co-operation and guilty plea – will the US accept it ? Hell NO ! Someone like Richard Armitage will land in Islamabad the very next day and threaten to bomb the country back to stone age.

    As long as the US maintains double standards and hipocrisy, as long as it distinguishes between 'good terrorists' and 'bad terrorists', terrorists who can be bought with dollars and those who cant, terrorists who attack americans and those who attack the less fortunate ones in foreign lands, as long as these distinctions exist, the war against terrorism will never be won.

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

    A lesser sentence to this guy is nothing but a ploy of USA to help their ally Pakistan. They know that if this guy is given a harsh judgment and sentenced to death he would be out of the judicial system, then India can ask for his extradition, to which USA cannot say no due to the treaty between the two countries and in India this guy will talk like a parrot and spill all the beans of how the army and civilian administration in Pakistan were involved in the henious crime in Mumbai. Good work USA, playing both the hands safe. Calls India an ally and friend and stabs them in the back when the opportunity came to help.

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

    The death penalty should be lifted ONLY if he is able to help extradite other terrorists he has worked with who are still roaming free, at large & dangerous to the world community.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sheila L.

    All these Muslim converts that are sent to prison will teach their hatred to the uneducated inmates and our country will pay the price. The prisons are the breeding grounds for domestic terrorism. Look how many minorities convert to Islam in prison and come out with the view that America is to blame for their failures and bad choices not themselves.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AJ

    It was clearly a mistake for us in the US to label others as terrorist for merely having an agenda which clashes with US interests. It is another mistake to support certain powers and interest groups for the purpose of maintainig US interest in the region.

    My prime example is int he Middle east where our governmet supports dictotors with money and weapons and then calls for democracy in the media.

    The internationalization of our interestsd has yielded an internationalization of the other side, which we call terrrorists. Terrorism remains an effect, we have to cure the cause, within ourselves.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nak

    This tells you there is a bigger game being played who really are these ppl who are creating havoc in the world. who is funding them, who is training them, to me this is deeper and more meaninfull then some folks living in caves riding on mules carrying out and ochestrating these sophisticated attacks.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ScaiacS

    Gee, why don't we give him life, a steady flow of psychiatrists, a literary agent, let him write a book, make a movie, the Hollywoodian thing... You know, celebrate the guy; the way they do in "educated countries."

    March 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sujoy Gupta

    Daood Syed Gilani, a.k.a David Headley's brother is Yousaf Raza Gilani, spokesman for the Prime minister of Pakistan.

    Daood's accomplice, Tahawwur Hussai Rana (who is been exempted honorary mention in this article) was a captain in the Pakistan Army. His brother is Mudawat Hussain Rana,a brigadier in the Pakistan Army.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andy

    This person deserves nothing short of capital punishment.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vicci

    David Coleman Headley is a US citizen but a partial pakistani descent. his real name is Daood Gilani. he changed his name in 2006 so as to carry his secretive mission and move around different countries without being suspected based on his real name.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. frem

    Another example of the Obama organization giving way to extremists. It's just a matter of time before this rogue administration turns over the keys to the White House to our enemies. This display of pacifism is showing the terrorists that we are weak in the knees when it comes to standing up to extremists. Look at the Carter admin. Lets negotiate was the ideology and it certainly didn't help our captives in Iran. Actions speak louder than words and it's about time someone takes the lead and takes action against all terrorist scum.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andy

    Now, I am against death penalty, but the whole ‘plea bargain’ process stinks. Judge should throw out the bargain and pursue justice.

    After killing 160 people, including 6 American, American prosecutors give out the ultimate penalty to save some tax payer dollars to save a trial and get a ‘Guilty conviction’.
    Let this guy cooperate and spill the beans on other terrorists, then throw him free in Afghanistan or Pakistan. His friends with give him the penalty that US spared him.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sanju

    US went on to war with Iraq and Afghanistan to find a single person who plotted the terroist attacks on US soil. Now US takes the privilage not to punish this guy even after proclaiming the world that he is the mastermind in carrying out 26/11 in India. defintely, I am not surprised if some nations denied to support the US on global terror

    March 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Leah

    Hate to tell you this, but the majority of Americans can hardly be considered "educated." It has been a huge failure for us going back at least a generation. Ignorance is a fertile breeding ground for extremism. While this used to play into the hands of the political elite, now we're seeing splintering of the right-extremists in America. It's a huge security threat but largely ignored because their religion of choice is Christianity.

    March 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13