35 Years in Prison for 166 Dead

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Exceptional Depravity, a new crime book, and Hollywood Party: Stalinist Adventures in the American Movie Industry. He has written for City Journal California, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and many other publications.


The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, claimed 166 victims from many nations, including six Americans: Ben Zion Chroman, Gavriel Holtzberg, Sandeep Jeswani, Alan Scherr, his daughter Naomi Scherr and Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum. David Coleman Headley, the American who helped plan the attacks, avoided the death penalty or even life imprisonment and has been sentenced to 35 years. As one report noted, that works out to one year in prison for nearly every five people killed. The case raises questions about Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism and the collaboration of Americans in the attacks.

Headley, 52, was born Daood Gilani to a Pakistani father and American mother. He made five trips to Pakistan to train at camps operated by the terrorist organization Lashkar e Tayyiba, (LeT) which he later testified coordinated their operations with Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. In 2006 Gilani changed his name to Daniel Coleman Headley to facilitate travel to India. Between 2006 and 2008 he made five trips to Mumbai. There he shot surveillance videos of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Chabad House Jewish community center, a train station and a children’s hospital. After each trip he traveled to Pakistan and gave the videos to LeT.

That intelligence work enabled 10 LeT terrorists to kill innocent civilians at random while being guided from Pakistan. The Chabad House Jewish community center was a primary target. Much of the three-day rampage was captured on video and PBS Frontline aired a documentary on the attacks.

Headley was arrested in 2009 and testified against Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman who aided  LeT and plotted to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten for cartoons of Muhammad. Rana has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. In Rana’s trial Headley testified that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency coordinated with LeT. Pakistan denies the charge.

In the style of 9/11 the Mumbai attacks took India off guard but their Black Cats special forces eventually took down the terrorists and captured one alive, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab. India hanged him last year and Indian officials were disturbed by Headley’s light sentence in American courts.

Indian prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters that the sentence was “very meager, inadequate, insufficient” and that India would have imposed the death penalty. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber agreed that Headley is a terrorist and deserved the death penalty. American Mumbai survivor Linda Ragsdale, shot in the back by one of the terrorists, testified that Headley has “lost his right to live as a free man” and that a sentence of 35 years would be an “appalling dishonor.”

As far as Pakistan’s involvement, innocent civilians everywhere have good reason never to believe anything until it has been officially denied. Pakistan was protecting Osama bin Laden and is doubtless smoldering over the U.S. operation to kill him, now being celebrated on film in Zero Dark Thirty.

Last September, an attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province of Afghanistan destroyed six Harrier jets and damaged two others. The attackers were well equipped, wore U.S. Army uniforms, and the operation was clearly well planned rehearsed beyond what one would expect from the Taliban. That has led some observers to suspect official Pakistani involvement.

The attackers doubtless had inside information from someone who played a spotter role in the manner of David Coleman Headley. Though he escaped just punishment for collaboration in the Mumbai attacks, Headley was at least put on trial and sentenced to a long term in prison, from which he may never emerge.  Meanwhile, no trial date has yet been set for Major Nidal Hasan, the U.S Army psychiatrist and jihadist who killed 13 and wounded 32 others at Fort Hood in 2009.

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Look, the killing of "infidels" means less than squat, and the regime in Washington basically agrees. As it stands, the left, in tandem with their Islamist helpmates, have co-opted the U.S. body politic and the proof is in the sentencing, or lack thereof – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/09/08/clash-of-civi

    Moreover, the Pentagon has been doing the bidding of Islamists and few have a clue – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/09/01/us-general-de

    Truth be told, if the gang in Washington had their druthers, Sharia Law would be instituted and that is that.

    Adina kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Smitty

      You hit the nail on the head, Adina. The problem is that half the population who supports the other half has faced an uphill battle trying to educate that "other half." The news media by-and-large is "owned" by the Obama Adminsitration and won't say anything critical. Instead, that media has drenched U.S. citizens with misinformation and outright lies. I fear it will get worse as the same type of thieves keep getting re-elected, while the taxpayers are forced to pick up the bill.

      I must apologize to you and your fellow Israelis for Obama's tacit approval of sending more F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks to Egypt for a reason that is beyond my comprehension. The only use Egypt would have for this armament is the invasion of Israel. Please believe that not all Americans are dumb enough to be duped by those politicians who have raped our Constitution and have bypassed its original intent.

      • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

        Smitty, most Jewish Israelis are VERY pro American, and they understand that its leaders are NOT representative of its majority public. In fact, the amount of damage to the region, caused by the Islamist-in-Chief, is beyond most people's comprehension. Trust me, it is much worse than reported.

        It is intrinsic to note, as things get "hotter" on our borders, there will be blow back. Americans need to also understand, if too much pressured is applied to Israel, due to Washington, even its otherwise appeasing leaders will go for broke. There will be no other choice.

        As such, you can count on the barbarians to take it out on America, their main bugaboo.

        Always be alert, that's our Zionist motto.

        Adina Kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

        • Ghostwriter

          And the thing is that many Muslims are anti-American and always have been.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    India should execute Daood Gilani AKA David Headly as they executed the lone surviving Paki ISLAMOFASCIST terrorist.

  • dev

    american double standards, they think Indian lives are cheap…btw he was a double agent who also worked for the cia, so i can well comprehend

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Let me guess.

      You're a Socialist.

  • Jaladhi

    This verdict was totally horrible, reprehensible. The prosecutor and judge both bear the blame for this verdict. the guy should have been executed for his role in the terrorist acts against Indians brutally murdering 167 innocents from all over the world. Americans have not even extradited this scum for trial in India. What a shameful and hypocritic behavior of Americans – government and the judiciary in this matter. Do lives lost in other countries not for American government? I guess not!!

  • Questions

    This case underscores why an Anglo-Celtic name can serves as cover for terrorist activity. Take the would-be "shoe-bomber" of several years ago, Richard Reid, Reid is a Scots surname. Unless you saw his picture, you wouldn't suspect he was a full-blooded Arab. He was about as "Scottish" as Yassir Arafat.

    It's about race, and its nicer term, ethnicity. Check the bloodlines before looking at the name.

  • Ghostwriter

    It's a shame this creep isn't swinging from a rope. He deserves it.