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26/11: Headley faces life term or death if found guilty

December 08, 2009 17:12 IST

Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-origin American citizen charged with criminal conspiracy in the Mumbai terror attacks, could face the 'maximum statutory penalty' of life imprisonment or death if convicted.

This was contained in additional charges unsealed at a Chicago court, which is hearing the case against 49-year-old Headley, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October, along with LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana.

All other counts against Headley, a Chicago resident, carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Headley was on Monday charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, murder and maim persons in India and Denmark, provide material support to foreign terrorist plots, provide material support to terror group LeT, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India (during 26/11).

The charges were announced by US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick J Fitzgerald and Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert D Grant.

Headley had made several trips to Mumbai between 2005 and 2008, taking video and photographs of possible targets, and took boat rides to identify the landing site for the terrorists, according to federal prosecutors.

The prosecutors said Headley also traveled to various other cities across India, taking videos of several possible terrorist targets. Headley, the FBI said, traveled to Mumbai for extended periods in September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008 and July 2008.

Before leaving for India, he received instructions from co-conspirators to conduct video surveillance of locations in and around Mumbai. During his stays in India, Headley conducted extensive surveillance, taking photographs and making videotapes of various targets in India, including the Taj Mahal hotel, the Oberoi hotel, Leopold Cafe, Nariman House and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which were targeted by the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26 last year. He also conducted a reconnaissance of other places of public use, state and government facilities, public transport systems and infrastructure facilities, the FBI said.

After each trip to India, Headley returned to Pakistan, the country of his birth, met other co-conspirators and provided results of his surveillance, including oral descriptions of various locations, to his Lashkar bosses, the charge sheet said. In March 2008, FBI said, Headley met co-conspirators in Pakistan and discussed potential landing sites in Mumbai for a team of terrorists.

He was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and surveillance video, which he did during his stay in India in April 2008.

Yoshita Singh In Chicago
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