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. John

    Death is the easy way out. Rotting in a jail, no matter how much people think it is a walk in the park, is a far much worse punishment. Deah is no punishment because how do they suffer? They don't, it is over quick and then what.... we hope for some hypothetical demons or devils to torment him? Please, there is no proof of any of that.

    At least stuck in a small concrete hovel with bars and freedom choices curtailed in this life we can know there will be suffering.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Austin

    What is once again apparent is that not all terrorists fit the neat profile the pundits expect. This is a white guy named David Headly. This is why we cannot simply rely on profiling as some suggest to fight terror. For example, special screening at airports etc.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ronnie

    What a Law system , a person is known to be a member of terrorist group , did accept that he was responsible for killing 160 people and now he does not face a death penalty . Will the US officials behave the same way against 9/11 plotters if any of them were captured .Guys , time to scrap the Law System.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jack

    I would agree that the death penalty is warranted, but we have to understand that's what these people want most, to be martyred. They are more scared of a prison sentence than of dying. There sure as hell aint 72 virgins in prison! Get what info we can, then either incarcerate him for life or turn him over to India (which I think is best) and let them deal with him.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PS

    What happened to the famed 'Zero tolerance Policy' and 'Do not negotiate with terrorists' policy.

    Will the victims get a chance to cross-examine?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. as

    US judicial system – a JOKE!
    I bet If same was done in US soil, he could have been executed by now. But if a US citizen , albeit a TERRORIST took 160 innocent lives on foreign soil, USA is not concerned!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brad M.

    If anyone wants the whole story on this guy do an internet search.
    You will find that he is Pakastani-American and his name was Daood Sayed Gilani but he changed it to hide is Muslim roots.
    Whenever you see a story on CNN just assume it's half true, politically correct and leaning to the left. It's up to us in the public to dig for the whole story. We cannot count on these clowns at CNN.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John W

    Letting this creep live is telling the terrorist and the world how soft we are.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aaron

    What a surprise, another Muslim convert...not sure why CNN doesn't want to mention it in their article, other websites aren't afraid to tell the truth.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SK

    Lets see how good you can be to a terrorists . Put him to a 2 star equivalent federal prison , pardon him for killing 160 people . This is the justice system of most influential democratic country today .

    How low we can go . Should not he be sent to hell where he belongs..


    March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mark

    hehehe... what a crual joke. He was involved in killing 160 innocent people and when he saw he will be also hanged, he plead guilty and getting away from it.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vaseem

    Talk about Hypocrisy.
    Listen up US, this man needs to be extradited to India, face charges and get punishment in India.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jay

    This guy is a double agent of the CIA according to newspapers in India? What's with that?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Will H.

    To all the death penalty loons...if this guy actually provides something that stops future attacks, then what difference does it make whether he dies or spends the rest of his life in prison?

    Letting one person we don't like live is worth however many future attacks are prevented as a result of his cooperation.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mr. Chris

    This Guy need to be handed over to the Mumbai Military Tribunal for trial and not the court system.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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