American who aided Mumbai terror attack to be sentenced in federal court

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 9:28am

(CNN) -- He grew up a child of two nations -- the United States and Pakistan -- with a parent from each.

He was born Daood Gilani, the son of a prominent Pakistani broadcaster, but in 2006 he changed his name to David Headley.

On Thursday morning, he is expected to be sentenced by a federal federal judge in an Illinois courtroom on terrorism charges for his role in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed 160 people.

Headley has admitted conducting advance surveillance for the operation in India.

Although Headley, 52, could receive life in prison, the Justice Department is recommending that a federal judge sentence him to 30 to 35 years after cooperating with U.S. authorities.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for his plea. He signed that agreement in 2010 and promised to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder noted at the time that he had provided extensive "valuable intelligence about terrorist activities."

Name change helped facilitate the surveillance in India

Headley was arrested by federal agents on October 2009 in Chicago, accused of helping plan terror attacks against a Danish newspaper that ran cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, sparking Muslim anger worldwide.

He was later linked to the bloody four-day terrorist siege in Mumbai. Headley cooperated with the authorities investigating both terror plots.

Headley received a Social Security number in Pennsylvania sometime in the late 1970s, public records show.

He then changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Headley on or about February 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani, according to a criminal complaint against him.

The Justice Department also accused him of attending terrorism training camps in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003, and working with the group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba to carry out terror attacks.

The United States lists Lashkar as a terrorist organization. India blamed the group for the Mumbai attacks.

Terror Testimony

Headley testified against a Canadian man who was sentenced last week to 14 years in prison for aiding a plot to attack the Danish paper.

Gary Shapiro, the acting U.S. attorney in Chicago, issued a lengthy sentencing memo to the federal district court on Tuesday concluding that the 30- to 35-year sentence the government recommended 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 support the government's recommendations," Shapiro said.

Headley could still receive up to life in prison.

The Indian government wants to conduct another trial for Headley, but the United States has said it would not send him to any other country.

-- CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden contributed to this report

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