Image of the Taj Mahal Hotel – one of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks
On January 24, 2013, in a Chicago court, David Coleman Headley, an American, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his part in a series of deadly attacks in Mumbai, India. Headley was one of the leading planners of the 2008 attacks that took place over three days at two hotels, a train station and a small Jewish community center. Over 160 people, including many children, were murdered.
Headley was born in the United States to a Pakistani father and American mother. He became involved with an Islamic militant group called the Lashkar-e-Taiba around 2000. Prosecutors said that Headley was motivated to plan these attacks because of his hatred of India. In regards to Headley’s involvement, he never actually pulled a trigger in the attacks but he videotaped and mapped the targets for the gunman.
At the trial, victims and families of those that died from the attacks, pleaded for a harsh punishment. They gave detailed accounts of the horrifying experiences Headley forced them to live through. One victim spoke of the feeling of having a bullet rip through her body and another spoke of living with the sadness of watching her loved ones die.
Prosecutors pressed for leniency for Headley, requesting that he get no more than 35 years in prison because of his cooperation after his arrest in 2009. They said that Headley provided information on terrorist networks and he testified against Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman convicted of providing aid to Lashkar-e-Taiba and backing a failed plot to attack a Danish newspaper.
Prosecutors also argued that by rewarding Headley with the possibility of a few years of freedom after his sentence, it could encourage future suspects in terrorist cases to cooperate.
Many are outraged, including myself, that Headley did not receive the death penalty or, at least, life in prison. What do you think his sentence should be? Do you agree with the prosecution in their reasoning for a lesser sentence?
PHOTO SOURCE: NPR