Terror suspect Headley to plead guilty in 26/11 case

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 16:16

Chicago: Pakistani-American David Coleman
Headley, a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative charged with conpiracy
in the Mumbai terror strike, will plead guilty before a US
court on March 18, five months after he was arrested by the FBI.

A court notice said a "change of plea" hearing has
been set tomorrow scheduling David Coleman Headley before US
District Judge Harry Leinenweber. A routine status hearing was
scheduled for Headley on March 23.

"Yes, he (Headley) will plead guilty," John Thesis,
Headley`s lawyer, said on Wednesday when asked if his client is
changing his not-guilty plea.

"I expect that is what is going to happen on March
18," Theis said.

He, however, declined to comment on whether Headley
would be pleading guilty to all or some of the charges in the
12-count superseding indictment filed against him on January
14.

49-year-old Headley is charged with conspiring in the
Mumbai terror strike and planning attack on a Danish newspaper
which published a cartoon on Prophet Mohammad.

The son of a Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia
socialite, Headley had so far pleaded not guilty to the
charges and has remained in federal custody at the
Metropolitan Correctional Centre here since he was arrested in
October 2009.

Theis refused to give any details when asked whether a
plea deal has been worked out for Headley, who has been
"cooperating in the ongoing investigation".
If convicted, Headley faces maximum penalty of life
imprisonment or death.

Theis said: "We have had discussions with the
government regarding the plea bargain. We are working on it
and we expect there will be a plea agreement."

However, Headley`s cooperation in the investigation is
seen as a way to escape death penalty.

Spokesman for Chicago US Attorney Patrick J
Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn said Headley would be present in
court for the March 18 hearing.

Samborn too declined to comment on what charges
Headley would be pleading guilty to.

In the 12 count indictment, Headley, a 49 year old
Chicago resident, faces six counts of conspiracy involving
bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons
in India and Denmark, providing material support to foreign
terrorist plots, providing material support to Lashkar and six
counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in
India.

The FBI had also charged Headley`s friend from a
Pakistani military school, city-businessman Tahawwur Hussain
Rana with providing material support to the Mumbai attacks as
well as to the terrorist organisation LeT.

Pakistani-Canadian Rana has pleaded not guilty to the
charges and said that he was duped by Headley.

Rana has been denied bail by the court and is held at
the Correctional centre since his October arrest. A hearing
for his case has been set for March 29.

Headley was first arrested in 1998 for conspiring to
smuggle heroin into the US from Pakistan. However, after his
arrest he cooperated with the investigation, giving
information about his involvement in drug trafficking and his
Pakistani suppliers.

Due to his cooperation, he was sentenced to less than
two years in prison and shortly thereafter went to Pakistan to
conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug
Enforcement Administration.

In 2002 and 2003, Headley allegedly attended terrorism
training camps in Pakistan maintained by Lashkar and conspired
with its members and others, including co-accused Rana, Ilyas
Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman in planning and executing the
attacks on India and a Danish newspaper.

He conducted extensive surveillance of targets in
Mumbai between September 2006 and July 2008, taking
photographs and making videotapes of various potential
targets, including those attacked in the November 2008 attacks
that killed approximately 164 people and left hundreds more
injured.

After every trip to India, Headley allegedly travelled
to Pakistan to share videos and photographs of the targets in
India with Lashkar members.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 16:16

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