Mumbai siege suspect to plead guilty

CHICAGO: The charismatic Chicago man accused of scouting out the deadly 2008 Mumbai siege

and a plot to kill a Danish cartoonist plans to plead guilty to terrorism charges, his lawyer said yesterday.

David Coleman Headley, 49, is accused of helping two different Pakistan-based terrorist groups and using a friend’s immigration company as a cover for surveillance activities in India and Denmark.

The Washington-born son of a former Pakistani diplomat and American mother, Headley reportedly befriended Bollywood stars and even dated an actress during his lengthy surveillance trips to Mumbai.

Charging documents also indicated Headley was so eager to kill a Danish cartoonist who sparked outrage with cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that he began working seriously on that plot two months before the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Headley, who has been cooperating with prosecutors since his October arrest, is set to appear in a Chicago federal court at 1830 GMT tomorrow for a change of plea hearing, court documents showed.

It remained unclear whether Headley would plead guilty to all or just some of the 12 charges laid against him in Chicago, some of which carried possible death penalty.

Headley’s attorney confirmed a plea deal was

in the works but declined to say to which charges his client would admit.

“I am really reluctant to go into the specifics of what he’s pleading to,” defence attorney John Theis told AFP.

“I expect that there will be a plea agreement,” he added. “And the details of that are what is being negotiated, so I can’t comment on anything.”

Prosecutors declined to comment on the deal.

Headley was initially arrested on terror charges related to a plot to attack Denmark’s highest circulating daily, Jyllands-Posten, which triggered a furor in the Muslim world by publishing 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Headley was later charged in the Mumbai attacks, as was his old friend from military school in Pakistan, Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Rana, who owns the Chicago-based First World Immigration Services that Headley allegedly used as a cover, insists he is a pacifist who was “duped” by his friend. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Headley also initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but has long been expected to eventually reach a plea deal with prosecutors.