American citizen David Coleman Headley pleaded guilty Thursday to all 12 federal terrorism charges that were brought against him, including conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder Americans and others in India, and to provide material support to the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
A 35-page plea agreement detailed Headley's participation in foreign terrorism conspiracies that included planning the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 as well as plotting a subsequent attack on the Danish newspaper facilities of Jyllands-Posten and its employees. The Mumbai terror attacks killed approximately 164 people, including six Americans.
Headley, a Chicago resident born in Pakistan, admitted to attending training camps in Pakistan operated by LeT on five separate occasions between 2002 and 2005. Headley also admitted traveling to India five times between September 2006 and July 2008 under instructions from Lashkar to scout potential sites for terrorist attacks. Several of the sites Headley videotaped on his various reconnaissance missions were later attacked by Lashkar-trained terrorists in Mumbai in 2008 and in Pune last month.
The plea agreement commends Headley for cooperating with the government since his arrest last October: "[Headley] has provided substantial assistance to the criminal investigation, and also has provided information of significant intelligence value." Further in light of Headley's past cooperation and anticipated cooperation in the future, the Attorney General Eric Holder has waived the death penalty against Headley. He will not be sentenced until the government determines his cooperation is complete, which may be years down the road.