India to press for Headley's extradition
US defends verdict, cites terrorist’s cooperation in ruling out capital punishment
Despite New Delhi’s “disappointment” with the 35-year-jail term for David Coleman Headley, Washington on Friday defended is decision not to seek capital punishment for the LeT terror-plotter on the ground that he had helped authorities, not only of the US, but also of India and other countries.
A US federal court in Chicago on Thursday sentenced Headley to 35 years imprisonment for working with the Lashkar-e-Toiba and helping the terrorist outfit plan the 26/11 attacks in 2008, that left 166 dead and over 300 people injured in Mumbai.
“This decision was taken because of Headley’s willingness to cooperate with law enforcement authorities – American, Indian and others – to help bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent other terrorist attacks,” the US Embassy in New Delhi stated on Friday in a bid to soothe the ruffled feathers in India.
Headley was also convicted of plotting an attack at Aarhus and Copenhagen offices of the Danish newspaper “Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten”, which had published some allegedly blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
However, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Friday that New Delhi would continue its effort for extradition of Headley and other terror-plotters and terrorists like him to India.
“We will continue our efforts to ensure that all such people are extradited and brought to India for trial... We would have liked a severer sentence and we would have liked the accused to be tried in India,” Khurshid said.
Home Secretary R K Singh also stated that not only the 52-year-old Pakistani-American, but all the plotters and perpetrators of the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai should be given death penalty. Notwithstanding hyperbole over US-India counterterrorism partnership, New Delhi had also expressed serious disappointment with Washington last month after its decison to give immunity to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and its former top officials from a lawsuit that had been filed in a New York court in connection with the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
The US Attorney General had authorised the attorney’s office in Chicago not to seek death penalty for Headley because he had been cooperating with the FBI.