“This would be a moral outrage that is inexcusable.” Yes. “American Mumbai plotter sentenced to 35 years,” by Michael Tarm and Sophia Tareen for the Associated Press, January 24 (thanks to Kenneth):
CHICAGO (AP) — An American drug dealer who had faced life in prison was sentenced instead to 35 years Thursday for helping plan the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India – a punishment prosecutors said reflected his broad cooperation with U.S. investigators but that a victim’s family member called “an appalling dishonor.”
It was David Coleman Headley’s meticulous scouting missions that facilitated the assault by 10 gunmen from a Pakistani-based militant group on multiple targets in Mumbai, including the landmark Taj Mahal Hotel. TV cameras captured much of the three-day rampage often called India’s 9/11. More than 160 people, including children, were killed.
Gee, AP, that’s interesting. What kind of “militant group”?
Glimpses of the horror came through the teary testimony of one of the victims who described the gory scene as she huddled under a restaurant table with her friends as gunmen sprayed the room with bullets, then walked around executing men, women and children one by one. Her own clothes soaked with blood.
“I know what a bullet can do to every part of the human body,” said Linda Ragsdale, a Tennessee children’s author, who was shot. “I know the sound of life leaving a 13-year-old child. These are things I never needed to know, never needed to experience.”
Headley faced life in prison, and at 52 years old, even a 35-year term could mean he’ll never walk free. But federal prosecutors had asked for a more lenient 30 to 35 years, citing his extraordinary cooperation including as the government’s star witness at the 2011 trial of a Chicago businessman convicted in a failed attack on a Danish newspaper.
Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald spoke in court calling Headley’s cooperation within 30 minutes of his 2009 arrest “unusual”.
However, Ragsdale and other victims called the 35 years unjust for the severity of the violence.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said he considered the cooperation in imposing his sentence even though “the damage that was done was unfathomable.” He cited a letter from Headley who vowed that he was a changed man, but Leinenweber said he didn’t buy it.
“I don’t have any faith in Mr. Headley when he says he’s a changed person and believes in the American way of life,” he said.
Headley, who did not address the court, showed no emotion when the sentence was announced. Security was tight at the packed hearing; dogs were walked through the lines of people waiting to get into the courtroom.
Prosecutors say Headley, who was born in the U.S. to a Pakistani father and American mother, was motivated in part by his hatred of India going back to his childhood. He changed his birth name from Daood Gilani in 2006 so he could travel to and from India more easily to do reconnaissance without raising suspicions.
He never pulled a trigger in the attack, but his contribution to the Pakistani-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, made the assault more deadly. He conducted meticulous scouting missions – videotaping and mapping targets – so the attackers who had never been to Mumbai adeptly found their way around.
One woman whose husband and daughter were killed in the attack said a lighter sentence would be “an appalling dishonor” to those killed.
“I feel that for the magnitude of the killings that took place, David Headley has lost his right to live as a free man,” said Kia Scherr, who is currently in Mumbai. “This would be a moral outrage that is inexcusable.”…