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January 25, 2013 1

American Sentenced For Planning Deadly 2008 Mumbai Attacks

David Cole­man Headley

A Chicago judge yes­ter­day sen­tenced David Cole­man Headley, a Chicago res­i­dent who helped orches­trate the 2008 ter­ror­ist attacks in Mum­bai, India, in which over 170 peo­ple were killed, includ­ing six Amer­i­cans, to 35 years in prison.

Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 to con­duct­ing sur­veil­lance on a num­ber of tar­gets in Mum­bai between 2006 and 2008 on behalf of the Pakistan-based ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT). The tar­gets included the Chha­tra­p­ati Shiv­aji rail­way sta­tion, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels, the Leopold Café, and the Nari­man House, the Mum­bai head­quar­ters of the Chabad Lubav­itch movement.

Indian news sources reported that Headley posed as a Jew dur­ing a July 2008 visit to the Nari­man House, where sus­pected mem­bers of LeT tor­tured and killed six peo­ple dur­ing the ter­ror­ist attacks four months later. LeT report­edly also tasked Headley with gath­er­ing details of Jew­ish cen­ters across India. In March 2009, four months after the Mum­bai attacks, Headley allegedly con­ducted addi­tional recon­nais­sance of Chabad Houses in sev­eral cities in India, which included other Jew­ish cen­ters in Delhi, Mum­bai, Goa, Pune and Pushkar.

Headley was also charged with plan­ning attacks with LeT tar­get­ing the Dan­ish news­pa­per that had printed car­toons depict­ing Muhammad.Since 2000 sev­eral other Amer­i­can cit­i­zens have been linked to LeT, which embraces an anti-Western ide­ol­ogy that demo­nizes the United States, Israel and India.

Although Headley faced life in prison, the judge lis­tened to pros­e­cu­tors’ rec­om­men­da­tions that he receive a lighter sen­tence due to his exten­sive coop­er­a­tion in other ter­ror­ism tri­als.  His coop­er­a­tion was most vis­i­bly demon­strated in the trial of his for­mer friend, Tahawwur Rana, who was con­victed in June 2011 of assist­ing Headley in plan­ning the attack in Den­mark and for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to LeT. Rana was sen­tenced to 14 years in prison on Jan­u­ary 17.

India has expressed dis­ap­point­ment in the lenient sen­tenc­ing, say­ing that “all those involved… should receive death,” and pledg­ing to con­tinue to seek Headley’s extradition.

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