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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Filed under: India • World
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Kathmy

    Now India can wage the war against terrorism on the USA!

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

    You know that he will die in prison long before he ever gets the needle. At least with his plea he can give us info that will stop other terrorists before any other attacks. No trial, cooperation, no money spent by the gov. on the trial, a possible win-win. Will see.

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

    What a sad news! He agrees of committing the crime and so the punishment reduced? I agree with all the anger shown in all the comments. Many people lost parents, dear ones, daugthers, sons and this man is set free... WOW!!

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

    I think US and India should have common military court to tackle this case. He should be treated as an enemy combatant. I think both the countries need to make an example of this case.

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

    I think you guys don't understand that he will spend the rest of his life in jail... He is not getting off easy by any measure, just not getting death

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

    This guy did recon. He did not plan or execute the attacks on Mumbai. There was no attack in Denmark. The crimes he committed were serious and deserve extreme punishment but the death penalty?

    If his sentence turns out to be life without parole and his information stops other terrorist attacks it's a good deal. Anything less than great intel and life without parole makes a mockery of this deal. Time will be the ultimate judge, I think India will be satisfied slapping this little fish in a very tiny pond for life in exchange for information that gets them to the leaders and planners of this atrocity.

    I would hope that US officials are working in concert with their Indian counterparts on the Big Picture. We need all the allies against worldwide terrorism we can get.

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

    Pinky
    His real name is Dawood Gilani. He is amuslim who changed his name to divert suspicion.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Angry Reader

    Now this arch criminal is a terrorist! The crazy cat lady from Philly.... not so sure a lonely crazy woman telling fantasies over the interwebs is a 'real' threat to anyone. Funny how they are getting equal 'treatment' under the law. I am more afraid of parts of east St. Louis than I am of the crazy cat lady.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sujoy Gupta

    I am baffled as to why this report leaves out an important factoid.

    The so called David Headley's real name is Daood Syed Gilani, born to a Pakistani father and an American mother.

    Who is trying to protect who?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Raj

    Where is justice here? If someone pleads guilty, he will let off? This is worst joke of judicial system. This guy must be extradited to India.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Swethan Anand

    This is just great news. If Americans want to earn a million bucks for their family and still be alive after helping kill hundreds of people, you know where to go and whom to work for. Can someone please tell me why Saddam didn't deserve the same justice as this guy??? I mean it's not like Saddam went around killing people directly, he "just" gave instructions and so did this guy.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ayan

    It will be a travesty of justice to let this happen. He should be executed by a death squad to teach a lesson to other would be terrorists who are lining up to kill infidels!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sad_Indian

    He is better off being tried under US laws .... We have Kasab (terroorist actually caught doing acts of terror in Mumbai) and still no prosecution for him in sight in India

    March 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Russ

    So let me get this straight, Ravi.....a "humane" act is to execute a person by hanging them by a rope, or shooting poisons into their veins? Don't include me in your ridiculous defintiion of "humanity" then. This man engineered the deaths of tens of innocents; lock him up in a "SuperMax" 8×10 cell for the rest of his days – believe me, he'll just quietly go insane and we won't have his blood on our hands.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rajesh

    I have read many rumors in Indian media that Headley was a double agent of CIA and a PAK terrorist group. He was assigned to infiltrate into terror camp, and get intelligence info. But he turned into one of them ( just like Avatar!, but to kill many innocents in India). As expected US wants to protect his past identity, and so they agreed to his guilty plea, and he will get lesser punishment! now jihads can attract more muslim CIA agents to work for them ! because US will protect them at any cost..why cant he be extradicted to India, and face trail in India after he is sentenced here. what if a 9/11 terrorist was captured in India, would US agree to have his trail in India? this is just a super power arrogance indeed!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
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