Chicago: Pleased with 35 years jail-term for Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, federal US prosecutor said the verdict is a balance between the horrific crime and future incentive to get cooperation from terrorists.
"The object of this exercise at least for us in Chicago was to balance between the horrific nature of the crime and the future investigations we are going to be conducting in their acts of terrorism, another criminal activity and when we approach someone to co-operate with us, what did their lawyers are going to tell them, what that they can expect two, three, four or five years down the line when it comes time for them to sentencing. That is what this balance was about," Acting US Attorney Gary S Shapiro told reporters.
"That is why we recommended between 30-35 years, what we believe is an extraordinarily long sentence and with the sentence impose, David Headley would not get out of the prison at least when he is 78-79, but at least it offered some real chance of some meaningful life at the end of that time. And that is the kind of incentive we think we need to do, we need to use to get future co-operation," Shapiro told reporters after Headley was sentenced for 35 years of imprisonment by a Chicago court.
Headley, 52, was ordered to serve 35 years, followed by five years of supervised release by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber for a dozen federal terrorism crimes relating to his role in planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and a subsequent proposed attack on a newspaper in Denmark.
There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
"I do not have the words to describe the pain the suffering inflicted upon people of Mumbai on the citizens of India and citizens of the United States and all the others who were killed and injured and the horror in mind that must have been felt by the people in Copenhagen when they learned about the plot. I am not going to even try to convey how awful those crimes were," he said.
"At the same time as professional law enforcement officers one of the things that you have to do, sometime as disagreeable as it is, is to decided what value there is in obtaining co-operation ? I do not mean co-operating in terms of David Headley testifying against Mr Rana," Shapiro noted.
"I am talking about intelligence information, I am talking about information we can use to charge other people, information we can use to stop other crimes and most importantly I am talking about what happens when God forbid when next Mumbai or the next Copenhagen and we are trying to short it out. No matter how, the good the intelligence is, how technologically advanced our investigative techniques are, we need witnesses and the only way to get witnesses in this world is by threatening to prosecute them and then offering them some real incentive to provide you with that information," the US attorney argued in defense of seeking 30-35 years of imprisonment and not life imprisonment for Headley.
"This was obviously a terrorism case, and the number of cooperators you get in terrorism case is vanishingly small," Shapiro said in response to a question.
Shapiro said much of Headley`s co-operation is classified as was expected to be, when they are trying to cut off future terrorist plots, when the US is trying to investigate other people involved in such acts.
"These crimes, Mumbai and Copenhagen are still under investigation and still people believe need to be investigated perhaps charged at just something we can`t talk about," he said.
The US Attorney said by seeking 30-35 years of imprisonment and not life sentencing, it considered the possibility of future co-operation from such individuals.
"We were trying to come up with a sentence that was incredibly severe, yet left some incentive for future co-operators to look at and think that at least I can get some benefit help the United States Government investigate other crimes, help other government investigate terrorist activities -- that is what we were trying to do," he said.
Shapiro did not provide any specific information that has been revealed by Headley as part of the co-operation.
"We all believe that Headley`s information went way beyond us being able to charge additional defendants in the Mumbai plot. We believe that information has been very useful. We believe that it helped a number of countries," he noted.