American Mumbai plotter gets 35 years in prison
CHICAGO (AFP) – An American man who admitted to scouting targets ahead of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and then cooperated with US authorities to avoid execution was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison.
David Coleman Headley, 52, pleaded guilty in 2010 to 12 charges related to the carnage in Mumbai and a second plot to attack a Danish newspaper that sparked outrage over its publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
He convinced US federal prosecutors to let him live after he was caught on tape plotting the Danish attack by telling them all he had learned in seven years of working with Pakistani militants.
Former US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who brokered the plea deal, said the information Headley provided “saved lives” as he urged Judge Harry Leinenweber to be lenient rather than imposing the maximum sentence of life in prison.
In handing down the 35-year prison sentence, Leinen-weber however told Headley he would much rather impose the death penalty, saying: “That’s what you deserve.”
Heavily-armed militants rampaged through Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more over nearly three days of carnage in a prolonged assault on the Indian financial capital.
In a plot that reads like a spy thriller, Headley spent two years casing Mumbai, even taking boat tours around the city’s harbor to find landing sites for the attackers and befriending Bollywood stars as part of his cover.