Chicago: David Coleman Headley, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative behind the 26/11 Mumbai attack, will be available to India for questioning, said his lawyer.
Headley pleaded guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday admitting he scouted targets ahead of the brazen terrorist attack in India’s financial capital in Nov 2008.
Asked if his plea is a ‘setback’ to India, Headley’s lawyer John Theis told NDTV: “I can't see how it can be interpretated as a setback for India. They are going to have the same opportunities that the United States Government has to question Mr Headley.”
Tight security during Headley guilty plea hearing
“He will make himself available and his lawyer will be present. He is required under the terms of the agreement, to cooperate with Indian authorities as well as Danish or Pakistanis, if they chose to do the same thing. And if he were to refuse to answer questions from Indian authorities, he would be in violation of his plea agreement and the agreement would no longer be valid,” Theis added.
Headley, 49, a US businessman of Pakistan descent, also admitted that he scouted targets for an attack that never took place of a Copenhagen newspaper that angered sections of Muslims for a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad, reports Chicago Tribune.
According to the Chicago Tribune report, Headley pleaded guilty to 12 counts -- conspiring to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim people in India and Denmark, to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots, as well as aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India.Headley case points to threats from home-grown terrorists
Headley also admitted meeting Ilyas Kashmiri, a Lashkar leader who was also indicted but remains at large. Kashmiri owned responsibility for the Pune bakery blast this year.
The case is being prosecuted in a US district court by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who said in court Attorney General Eric Holder had personally approved the plea deal for Headley.
In a statement, Holder called the guilty plea an important step toward justice for the victims of the Mumbai attacks.
"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," Holder said, reports Chicago Tribune.Who’ll protect us, Mr Prime Minister?
Earlier, India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Thursday said India is ‘closely watching’ how US handles the case of David Coleman Headley.
"Our stand remains the same-we are watching today's proceedings very closely," Krishna told reporters in New Delhi.
Headley, who pleaded not guilty when charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) first, started cooperating later with officials.
David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, were accused of plotting against the employees of the newspaper in Copenhagen.
Headley is accused of traveling to Denmark to scout the building of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and a nearby Synagogue, for an attack by terrorists.
More on Headley
In December, the FBI accused Headley of conspiring to bomb targets in Mumbai and providing material support to Lashkar-i-Taiba.
Headley reportedly had also surveyed the spot where a blast took place in a bakery in Pune this year killing several people.
David Coleman Headley was formerly known as Daood Sayed Gilani. He was a Pakistani-American businessman based in Chicago.