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January 24, 2013

Pakistani-American Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Terrorism

by VOA News

A Pakistani-American who pleaded guilty to his role in the 2008 Mumbai, India terror attacks has been sentenced by a U.S. court to 35 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber handed down the sentence against David Coleman Headley on Thursday in Chicago's federal court.

Headley could have received life in prison, but federal prosecutors asked for a lighter sentence of 30 to 35 years because he provided information that led to charges against other people involved with the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In November 2008, Lashkar terrorists took over a hotel, a Jewish center and other buildings in Mumbai for three days.  The attack killed 166 people, including six Americans.

Headley said he scouted locations for other possible attacks and received training from Pakistan's intelligence service. He said he carried out video surveillance for an aborted attack on a newspaper in Copenhagen, Denmark that had published cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.

Headley also said he received weapons and other training from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which he says also coordinated with Pakistani intelligence.

Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been suspected of involvement in the Mumbai attacks, and three ISI agents were named as co-conspirators by U.S. prosecutors.  Headley testified that the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai plot was limited to a handful of rogue agents.

As part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, Headley testified in the terror trial of Pakistani-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, who was sentenced last week to 14 years in prison.