Chicago: The Danish cartoonist, against whom David Coleman Headley plotted an attack in retaliation for his sketches of Prophet Mohammed, has said a long prison sentence would give time to the Pakistani-American LeT operative to "convert to more kind Islam".
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's 74-year-old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard says he does not believe in the death penalty and he would be satisfied with a long prison sentence for Headley, who has also pleaded guilty to involvement in the Mumbai attacks.
Westergaard has had three attempts on his life since sketching the cartoons in 2005.
"He (Headley) has to, of course, be put away for many years, but perhaps he can sit in jail, and he may think it all over and perhaps convert to, well, more kind Islam," Westergaard told the 'Chicago Sun-Times'.
In January, Westergaard was attacked by an axe-wielding "madman" who broke into his home and tried to kill him in retaliation for the cartoons. With his five-year-old granddaughter in a separate room, Westergaard locked himself into a steel-enforced "panic room", put in place since he drew the cartoon.
"I could have tried to fight the intruder and I would have been slaughtered before the eyes of my five-year-old grandchild," he said.
Instead, he locked himself in the panic room and called for police. While he waited, he could hear the axe as the intruder tried to break through the door. The police came and shot the man, who is now in prison.
On March 18, Headley pleaded guilty to his role in the 26/11 attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans. He also admitted to a plot to attack the Danish newspaper.
The case is considered as one of the most significant terror investigations in the US, with Chicago's top federal prosecutor US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald personally appearing in the court for the proceedings.
This is only the second case that Fitzgerald's has personally prosecuted since he arrived in Chicago in 2001.
First Published: Sunday, March 21, 2010, 15:25