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. doublestandard

    Vaseem: remember the UK got so angry about teh drug dealer executed by Chinese. UK government clained the drugdealer got metnal illness. The US government will do the same thing to keep his hero son of Bch alive! They all the same.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Vinatha

    If this slime does not get the death penalty, nobody, JUST NOBODY specially USA and India is doing NOTHING to fight terrorism. The countries will be shamed to let this man live. You confess to such a crime or not, you don't deserve to live. Rather, the living don't deserve to live with this man!

    I hope the whole world will protest if at all this man is let go. I – JUST – HOPE!!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Globense

    US Justice Dept. – Can we have an exception please...... Now that we know he did it with the full knowledge of the kind of damage that it would cause ..... including killing his own people......nothing but execution he deserves

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BingoDingo

    Wonderful Justice system. keep it up guys. This scum of the earth directly aided mass murderers and 160 people got killed. I WANT TO REMIND THAT THERE WERE AMERICAN CITIZENS IN THOSE KILLED. Now the American Govt says this scum will not face a trial just cuz he is spilling beans about terrorists. NICE JOB Eric Holder. This is nothing but degrading treatment of the dead. There used to be a time when American Citizens deaths were avenged no matter what.....now its all game.

    IF any one deserves death penalty this is the guy.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sony

    Some people believe that he is american christian. He is not, he is pakistani muslim living in america who has adopted christian name for escaping security checks around the world. Terrorists are adopting new tactics. As far as education level is concerned even 9/11 terrorists were well educated. If US doesn't share information about him others too will think before passing vital information to US.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sunder

    the sheer anger in the posters here is quite understandable. But I think there are more pieces to this puzzle. There was some talk in news papers that he was a CIA operative gone rogue etc. This plea deal kind of emphases this. If not being extradited to India, I think US needs to co-operate and let foreign intelligence agencies also examine him. But just killing him I think they would just lose some credible information that can be extracted from him.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Al

    An American terrorist – who would have thought. Aren't we led to believe that only the "other side" has terrorists?

    March 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hicks

    We are supposed to be fighting a "war on terror"..if so, then this man should be considered a traitor to the United States and, as such, given the full measure of justice. He may as well be considered a modern day "Benedict Arnold". If he is so keen on emulating these terrorists, send him over to Iraq or Afghanistan and see if he can survive like our brave men and women who are dying so his sorry case can live in freedom!!

    March 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shilpi Mahajan

    He should be extradited to India.. He should be publicly hanged in Mumbai in front of the hotels he helped burn and in front of the innocent people who lost someone in the terror attacks.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Raj

    btw...He is not a 'convert' but rather half Pakistani...He was born into a Pakistani – Dad/American – Mom. Regardless, it is a shame for he helpled in doing in Mumbai

    March 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Partha

    David ought to be sent to Guantanamo along with rest of his buddies. No plea deals or any other BS.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Soumya

    I cannot believe this guy is getting way without a trial!! This is not fair or just.. In fact he should just be given death penalty without a trial since they have all the evidence they need. Just because he is pleading guilty, it does not absolve him of the crime..

    The whole country would've cried foul had it been a Non-US citizen who committed the same crime within US. I think US can do much better in their 'fight' against terrorism.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Vic

    He real name is Daood Gilani and he is related to the Press Secretary of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani. No wonder he escaped death penalty.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sugandha

    I am appalled by the attitude of the US government towards this heinous murderer. Just because he now admits to his deeds, he is going to to avoid execution. Would the US have treated anyone else this way ? I doubt it. Any other national would've been executed.

    CNN needs to broaden its horizons. Not just "six Americans" were killed in these attacks; 300 "people" were. Please don't make it sound like the other 294 were any lesser human beings.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RadioCity

    He must be given the worst possible slow death poison in prison and let loose amongst hard core prisoners. his entire life must be made livign hell every moment of his life.

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