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. Danram

    What SHOULD happen is that they line him up against a wall in front of a firing squad. Treason is still punishable by death in this country. What WILL happen is that he'll spend the rest of his life in a federal prison getting three squares a day at taxpayer expense.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ranjit

    Would this be acceptable if the same carnage would have happened in the US and the Indian govt decided to not extradite this criminal and lessen the punishment being meted out to this perpetrator and participant of a most brutal crime of kiiling innocents...? I guess the answer is a BIG NO and India is well within its right to feel disappointed and slighted especially when this action comes from the US, the 'leader' in combating terrorism...perhaps yardsticks for treating 'terrorists' and 'terrorist crimes' conveniently differ for the US government as it seems to suit them..am sure the American people think otherwise and understand this angst and are more supportive of of this feeling of dejection amongst the people of India....

    March 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    We have to start making examples of our own stupid countrymen who participate in atrocities like this. He should be executed. We target and exterminate others around the globe who do these types of things, but our own citizen gets spared because he cooperated? HE COOPERATED BECAUSE HE GOT CAUGHT! We need to squeeze every ounce of information out of this turd and then execute him to set an example.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carlos

    The USA will never extradite anyone to a foreign nation, US Law.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pippy

    Does India even HAVE a death penalty?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. curt

    Yes he should receive the death penalty, but what kind of bargaining power do you have with someone if you tel them they will be executed either way? Think people- he must have given them crucial information that will be valuable down the line in order to avoid execution- otherwise these prosecutors are morons! I don't think that's the case.

    Just goes to show you that profiling people because of their appearance is impossible. This guy looks like Tom Hanks

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. markiejoe

    "There is no justification for participation in the indescriminate killing of innocent people"

    Yes there is. It's called religion. As long as it's in the name of God, religion kills anyone and everyone.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. miguel53pt

    The story is hardly over. While he assisted in murder aka terrorism he is only doing this to avoid the death penalty. It's a quid pro quo. But the Feds will find a way to screw him good and give him MOST of what he deserves.
    A smart man could always claim he was working for the CIA...cause the CIA would never be able to absolutely deny it with any credibility, especially if the lawyer is smart.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Terri

    Would you rather just give this man the death penalty and have no cooperation and receive no furhter intelligence? While he definitely deserves the death penalty, I would rather we get actionable intelligence and the ability to capture more of his co-conspirators. I seriously doubt he will ever be released from custody.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Farin

    Execute him , Punish him by Taliban standard. Even beheading this scumbag is not enough

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amit

    Hand over this killer to India where the crime was committed. Anything less than death penalty for this guy is injustice to the Indian people.
    So, when Americans are killed they are innocent people and when American terrorist kill others the government protects them..what a joke.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NoName

    I guess people (Steve, pinky) comment without knowing full details. Just to let them know, David Headley is a Muslim born in Pakistan, immigrated to USA and changed his name to deceive authorities. I don't judge people by religion or color or country of origin, my intention here is to let people know. I have a few Pakistan Muslim friends.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rags

    FIGHT AGAINST THE TERROR – true definition by the US Justice. Person pleading guilty after killing 100s of innocent people, making few hunderds to loose their parents, kids, brothers, sisters, wife, husband.... does anyone in the Judicial system know how painful it is to loose a family member. There are people who lost their whole family like the 2 year old Isreli boy who lost his parents. By not punisihing, this is an encouragement shown by US for Laksher-e-Thoiba to recruit more Americans to attack US and other contries, after that plead guilty you will be fine.... WHAT A JOKE....

    March 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. vm

    I still believe this Mr Headly was doing terrorist act in mumbai and elsewhere with the help of ISI and military of pakistan.I request government of India please change the article of special staus to kashmir and let hindus go and settle there.Also please India do not talk to pakistan and do business.This country has not stopped terrorism since independence and there is no reason to believe they will stop in future There agreements are just piece of papers.We have to leave Ghandhian ideology behind and adop policies like Israel.If some good people of India will feel this is tit for tat so be it.We have to warn pakistan if you do not stop terrorism and violence in our country we might do same on much higher basis.Stop asking from America and Saudi Arabia for their help.America is the one who did not stop pakistan when they were devloping nuclear weapons on the contrary supplying more lethal weapons knowing they are being used or going to be used against India.Saudi Arabia is another country who want to make whole India in to muslim state.Since India has their own missiles and nuclear weapons they should not be worried from any one particulerly tin horn country pakistan. Our more than half of the problems can solved by a single stroke if government just amend constitution.Our soldiers are vunerable in kashmir both side hostile people and terrorist from border.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dj-aby

    This terrorist is no less than osama . If osama plotted terror attack on US soil, headly plotted and successfully executed a terror attack in Mumbai, India. US is after Osama since almost 10 years now..and Headly is caught and given a waiver of death sentence since he pleads guilty...what a mockery!!! Why the double standards? Hang him USA, hang him!!!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
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