A self-confessed plotter of the November 2008 terrorist strikes in Mumbai was sentenced to 35 years in prison Thursday. The high-profile attacks on major landmarks in India's financial hub had killed 164 people, including six Americans.
Pakistan-born American David Coleman Headley pleaded guilty in 2010 to 12 federal terrorism charges brought against him in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a plot to attack the Jyllands Posten newspaper facility in Denmark, and providing material support to the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). He agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as part of his plea agreement.
Headley, a Chicago resident, repeatedly attended Lashkar terrorist training camps. At the terrorist group's direction, he made five surveillance trips to Mumbai between 2006-2008, helping to scout the targets in the bloody attacks.
Prosecutors say his subsequent cooperation with them was significant, including lengthy debriefings with Indian law enforcement officials, and asked for a sentence between 30 and 35 years for the 52-year-old Headley.
"In addition to providing an insight into the personnel, structure, methods, abilities and plans of Lashkar, Headley took active steps to further the investigation into other terrorists. Headley's cooperation assisted the government in filing criminal charges against at least seven other individuals, and his testimony helped to secure the conviction of one co-defendant," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed earlier this week.
Headley's co-conspirator, Tahawwur Rana, was sentenced to 14 years last week for his role in the Danish terror plot and for aiding Lashkar. Headley was a prosecution witness in Rana's trial.
In his testimony, Headley detailed trainings he received at Lashkar camps in Pakistan. He also described his recruitment, training, and handling by former Pakistani army officers and members of the country's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). Evidence presented in court also showed Headley not only worked at the behest of LeT but also with members of al-Qaida.
The U.S. investigation into the Mumbai attacks "are ongoing and active," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco.
Six other co-defendants charged in the case are believed to be in Pakistan.
For a summary of the case, see the Justice Department's news release on Headley's sentencing here.