CHICAGO (Reuters) – A Chicago man pleaded guilty in court on Thursday to scouting targets for the 2008 assault on Mumbai that killed more than 160 people, including six Americans.
David Headley, 49, has been cooperating with U.S. investigators since his arrest in October and faces up to life in prison, said U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber.
Headley also pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that offended many Muslims with 2005 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Headley pleaded guilty to 12 conspiracy counts in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and a promise not to be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
Prosecutors also agreed to ask for a lesser sentence for Headley, but the judge said that was not guaranteed.
Three other men have been charged in the case, including a Pakistani-born Chicago businessman who is being held and two Pakistanis tied to militant Islamist groups who are not in custody.
Headley, who formerly lived in Pakistan, switched his plea from not guilty to guilty to providing material support to terrorism and conspiracy to bomb public places in India.
“Not only has the criminal justice system achieved a guilty plea in this case, but David Headley is now providing us valuable intelligence about terrorist activities,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.
India suspended a 4-year-old peace process with old rival Pakistan after the November 2008 attack on Mumbai by 10 Islamist militants that killed 166 people. India has demanded action against Pakistani-based militants, but has signaled it is ready for a new round of talks.
Headley’s case number is 09-CR-830.