India will keep asking for Headley extradition

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 17:45 hrs

A day after 26/11 collaborator David Coleman Headley was sentenced for 35 years by a US court in the Mumbai attack case, India on Friday sent out a mixed reaction showing disappointment at the quantum of punishment but expressed satisfaction over the recognition of the role of the accused in an attack in India, thus continuing to demand of extradition of the Pakistani-American terrorist.

"We will continue our efforts to ensure that all such people are extradited and brought to India for trial," said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid speaking to reporters.

Khurshid said "if he would have been tried in our country he would have possibly got more than this."

"But I can simply say that the fact that an American court has recognized the role of an accused in perpetrating this crime in India is at least a good beginning. We would have liked a severer sentence, and as I said we would have liked the accused to be tried in India. But at least a beginning has been made," he said.

On the reports that Pakistan army and its spy agency ISI will continue to organise terror attacks, Khurshid said: "You know that this is a much larger landscape and our concern and our efforts have been explained to the media and to the public at large from time to time. Unfortunately, not everything that we do we can tell you immediately for obvious reasons, for strategic reasons."

To a question on Headley´s accomplice Tahawwur Rana, Khurshid said: "The same thing continues. There is a little difference between the two cases because in this case he had given up his right of appeal; in the other case the right of appeal has not been given up. So we continue to watch these cases very closely, and such legal intervention as we can make at any time we will continue to do so."

Union Home Secretary RK Singh said India would continue to demand extradition of Headley because he had not only collected information on Mumbai before the attack but also of other places.

"His recce was not limited to Mumbai alone. He visited other places too," said Singh.

Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley, who admitted to helping plot the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a U.S. court in Chicago on Thursday.

The sentence, delivered by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, was the maximum sought by federal prosecutors, who had not called for a death penalty as Headley had agreed to testify against his fellow Islamic militants.

Six Americans were also killed on the coordinated attacks in Mumbai now infamously referred to as 26/11 since it had began on the night of Nov 26 in 2008.

Headley had admitted to meticulous scouting missions that facilitated the assault by the 10 terrorists from the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

US federal prosecutors had sought a 30-35 jail term for the 52-year-old Headley, keeping in view his cooperation with the investigation.

The judge however made his distrust with Headley´s statements clear as he said, "Mr Headley is a terrorist...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."

Judge Leinenweber said in his sentencing order Headley had showed no remorse for those killed in the attack. When asked, he said they were Indians and they deserved it.

The once small-time US drug dealer-turned-terrorist plotter had also testified against Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman convicted of providing aid to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Gary Shapiro, the acting US Attorney in Chicago said on Tuesday that the 30-35 year sentence recommended by the prosecution for Headley was fair.

"While his criminal conduct was deplorable, the uniquely significant cooperation which he provided to the government´s efforts to combat terrorism supports the government´s recommendations," reports quoted him as saying in a memo to the federal court on Tuesday.

Besides the LeT, Headley was also found guilty of having colluded with terrorist outfits such as Al-Qaeda.

Headly, who had also pleaded guilty to conspiring to attack the office of a Denmark newspaper, was arrested in Chicago in November 2009.

The 52-year-old terrorist was spared a death sentence and also promised not to be extradited to India where he was likely to have faced a harsher trial.

The Pakistani terrorists who came by sea route had massacred people wantonly in Mumbai attacking luxury hotels, railways stations, hospitals and a Jewish centre till nine of the ten gunmen were killed by the Indian commandoes and cops after battling for more than two days of the siege by the gunmen.

The lone surviving gunman in the attack , Ajmal Kasab, was hanged by India last year.

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