Headley pleads guilty to terror charges

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by 1.44, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

    Jun 8, 2009
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    Headley pleads guilty to terror charges

    In a volte-face, Pakistani-American LeT operative David Coleman Headley, accused of plotting the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and conspiring to target a Danish newspaper, on Thursday pleaded guilty before a US court here.

    In a plea bargain, Headley has been assured of no extradition to India in return. Also there will be no death penalty for Headley.

    He also won't be allowed extradition to Denmark and Pakistan and there will be no trial for Headley.

    Forty nine-year-old Headley, who was arrested by the FBI's joint terrorism task force on October 3 last year, told US District Judge Harry Leinenweber that he wanted to change his plea to guilty, in an apparent bid to get a lighter sentence than the maximum death penalty.

    Headley, charged on 12-count, admitted guilty in all of them.

    Headley, son of a Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite, admitted to using his friend Tahawwur Rana's immigration company as a cover for surveillance activities in India and Denmark on behalf of Pakistan-based terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Toiba.

    Wearing an orange jumpsuit with hands and legs shackled, Headley was produced before the court under unprecedented security arrangements.

    Security forces along with sniffer dogs were deployed around the court. Special metal detector doors were erected at the entrance of the packed court room.

    Headley admitted guilty in all six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and LeT; and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India.

    Indian blames LeT for carrying out Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 that killed 166 people including six Americans.

    Headley is also charged with plotting attacks against Danish newspaper 'Jyllands-Posten' which published a blasphemous cartoon of Prophet Mohammad.

    John Theis, Headley's lawyer, had earlier said his client will plead guilty, but declined to comment on whether he would do so to all the charges against him.

    The American terror suspect had got away with a lesser sentence after he was arrested in 1998 for smuggling heroin into the US from Pakistan as he cooperated with the investigation in the case.

    He was sentenced to less than two years in prison and thereafter went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Headley, admitted that he participated in planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, as well as later planning to attack a Danish newspaper.

    He also admitted that he attended training camps in Pakistan operated by Lashkar-e-Toiba on five separate occasions between 2002 and 2005.

    In late 2005, Headley received instructions from three members of Lashkar to travel to India to conduct surveillance, which he did five times leading up to the Mumbai attacks three years later that killed six Americans among approximately 164 people and wounded hundreds more.

    A 35-page plea agreement containing a detailed recitation of Headley's participation in terror conspiracies was presented when he changed his plea to guilty.

    "By this plea agreement defendant agrees to enter a voluntary plea of guilty to all counts," said a 35-page plea agreement of Headley.

    Headley has cooperated with the Government since he was arrested on October 3, 2009, and the agreement states that he "has provided substantial assistance to the criminal investigation, and also has provided information of significant intelligence value."

    In light of Headley's past cooperation and expected future cooperation, the Attorney General of the United States has authorised the United States Attorney in Chicago not to seek the death penalty against Headley, it said.

    Regarding sentencing, which will be deferred until after the conclusion of Headley's cooperation, the plea agreement calculates an anticipated advisory sentencing guideline of life imprisonment.

    "Today's guilty plea is a crucial step forward in our efforts to achieve justice for the more than 160 people who lost their lives in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Working with our domestic and international partners, we will not rest until all those responsible for the Mumbai attacks and the terror plot in Denmark are held accountable," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

    "Not only has the criminal justice system achieved a guilty plea in this case, but David Headley is now providing us valuable intelligence about terrorist activities. As this case demonstrates, we must continue to use every tool available to defeat terrorism both at home and abroad.

  3. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

    Jun 8, 2009
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    Headley cuts deal with US, India helpless

    The timing of the visit was crucial. On Thursday, US Ambassador Timothy Roemer met India's Home Minister; hours later, a Chicago court will see David Coleman Headley plead guilty to a key role in India's worst-ever terror attack, 26/11. (Read: David Headley: Truth & lies)

    ''We are co-operating with Indian authorities because our end goal is fighting the common enemy of terrorism and continuing to work together,'' said Roemer after the meeting with P Chidambaram.

    Sources say India has asked for access to Headley's wife in the US. (Read: India wants access to Headley's wife in US: Reports)

    There is much that India has at stake with Headley's decision to abandon the not-guilty stand he took just two months ago. India's worst fears: that Headley's new plea will allow him a lighter sentence and that this will be support the theory that Headley is actually a US agent who went rogue. (Read: Headley to plead guilty, India watches closely)

    Officially, Headley will be getting a reduced sentence for providing key information that will help to unravel some of the world's biggest terror networks. But are American intelligence officials looking to protect one of their own? (Read: Did US hide truth about Headley from India?)

    Headley was on the FBI's radar for over a year before he was arrested in Chicago in September. However, despite the fact that emails between him and the Lashkar-e-Toiba were intercepted, America did not warn India about him.

    Worse, that Headley had been watched for a month before 26/11. Combined with the fact that that the FBI had intelligence inputs that suggested terror attacks at Mumbai hotels, Indian officials see the that they were not privy to the information that America was steadily collecting against Headley.

    Some of the 12 charges that Headley faces in America come with the death penalty. After his plea bargain, it's unlikely that prosecutors will seek capital punishment for him. Much more alarming for India - it may never get to question him. (Read: Will David Headley be extradited to India?)

    So far, America's official stand has been that India's request for his extradition is "premature." India has asserted that despite Headley's new stand in court, it will continue to push for access to him.

    That's an empty threat for many. Like Bhisham Mansukhani, who survived 26/11. He says, "The Americans clearly have a lot more use for him. They are not going to let him go irrespective of what sentencing he receives. I don't think we will be seeing David Headley in India ever again.'' (Read: Headley-Rana's conversation about 26/11)

    For others, any sort of reduced punishment for Headley is an insult to the lives lost. Suolchana Jadhav's son died during the Mumbai attacks. Her view - ''The person who has been arrested in America for 26/11 must be punished for his crime. His punishment should not be reduced.'' (Watch: Rahul Bhatt's Headley story)

    At the 26/11 court in Mumbai, where terrorist Ajmal Kasab and others are being tried, Headley is just one of many accused. His absence will not stall or weaken the ongoing trial.

    But without Headley, India will not be able to piece together, the stifling patchwork quilt of terror stitched across the subcontinent.


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