Admits conducting surveillance for Lashkar in planning Mumbai attacks.
Will this terrorist now be directly questioned by India after this confession?
Will he now be extradited to India?
David Coleman Headley, a US citizen of partial Pakistani descent, has pleaded guilty to a dozen terrorism charges, admitting that he participated in planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
In pleading guilty to all 12 counts that were brought against him, Headley admitted that he attended training camps in Pakistan, operated by terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyiba on five 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 written plea agreement containing a detailed recitation of Headley’s participation in the foreign terrorism conspiracies was presented when Headley, 49, of Chicago, changed his plea to guilty on Thursday before US District Judge Harry Leinenweber in Federal Court in Chicago.
FBI, which arrested Headley on Oct.3, 2009, said he has cooperated with the Government, and the plea 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 has authorized the US Attorney in Chicago not to seek the death penalty against Headley, FBI 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 in prison.
Provided that Headley continues to provide full and truthful cooperation, the Government will ask the Court to grant an unspecified departure from the sentencing guidelines, which will be solely up to the Court to decide.
“Today’s guilty plea is a crucial step forward in our efforts to achieve justice for the 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 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.”
Headley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bomb public places in India; conspiracy to murder and maim persons in India; six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in India; conspiracy to murder and maim persons in Denmark; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in Denmark; and conspiracy to provide material support to Lashkar.
According to the plea agreement, Headley attended the following training camps operated by Lashkar: a three-week course starting in February 2002 that provided indoctrination on the merits of waging jihad; a three-week course starting in August 2002 that provided training in the use of weapons and grenades; a three-month course starting in April 2003 that taught close combat tactics, the use of weapons and grenades and survival skills; a three-week course starting in August 2003 that taught counter-surveillance skills; and a three-month course starting in December 2003 that provided combat and tactical training.
After receiving instructions from three Lashkar members in late 2005 to travel to India to conduct surveillance, in February 2006, in Philadelphia, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani to facilitate his activities on behalf of Lashkar by portraying himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani. In the early summer of 2006, Headley and two Lashkar members discussed opening an immigration office in Mumbai as a cover for his surveillance activities.
Headley eventually made five extended trips to Mumbai — in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008 — each time making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked in November 2008. Before each trip, Lashkar members and associates allegedly instructed Headley regarding specific locations where he was to conduct surveillance, and Headley traveled to Pakistan after each trip to meet with Lashkar members and associates, report on the results of his surveillance, and provide the surveillance videos.
Before the April 2008 surveillance trip, Headley met with co-conspirators in Pakistan and discussed potential landing sites in Mumbai for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea. Headley returned to Mumbai with a global positioning system device and took boat trips around the Mumbai harbor and entered various locations into the device, according to the plea agreement.
Starting Nov. 26, 2008, and continuing through Nov. 28, 2008, 10 attackers trained by Lashkar carried out multiple assaults with firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices against multiple targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Café, the Chabad House and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, each of which Headley had scouted in advance, killing approximately 164 victims and wounding hundreds more.
In March 2009, Headley made a sixth trip to India to conduct additional surveillance, including of the National Defense College in Delhi, and of Chabad Houses in several cities.
Headley also admitted planning to attack a Danish newspaper.
One of Headley’s co-defendants, Tahawwur Rana, 49, of Chicago, who was indicted in January on three counts — conspiracy to provide material support to the Mumbai attacks; conspiracy to provide material support to the Denmark plot; and providing material support to Lashkar — has pleaded not guilty and remains in federal custody in Chicago while awaiting trial.