David Headley: India for US Mumbai attacker's extradition

Courtroom sketch of David Headley
Image caption David Coleman Headley was arrested by FBI agents in Chicago in October 2009

India has said it will continue to press for extradition of David Coleman Headley, a US man sentenced to 35 years in prison for his key role in plotting the deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008.

India was "slightly disappointed" over the quantum of sentence, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.

Headley, 52, pleaded guilty and co-operated with the US to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India.

More than 160 people were killed by gunmen during the assault.

Headley was sentenced on Thursday on 12 counts, including conspiracy to aid militants from the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who carried out the attacks.

After initially denying the charges, he eventually pleaded guilty and admitted to scouting potential target locations in Mumbai.

He also confessed to helping plan an aborted plot to behead staff at a Danish newspaper that had published a cartoon many Muslims deemed offensive.

'Unfathomable damage'

"The 35-year sentencing and what the judge said is a beginning. We understand there are legal procedures in the US but nevertheless the position we have, the request (extradition) that we have made remains intact," Mr Khurshid told reporters on Friday.

Image caption The Mumbai attack targeted a railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre

He said India wanted Headley tried here and that he would have possibly got a "serious and severe" sentence in this country.

The federal Home Secretary, RK Singh, said India would push for Headley's extradition.

"India wants death sentence for David Headley and all those involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," he said.

Headley had faced life imprisonment but US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said he had taken into account the American's co-operation in the case, even if "the damage that was done was unfathomable".

"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 during the verdict.

Headley was born Daood Gilani to a Pakistani father and American mother but changed his name to David Coleman Headley in 2006 "to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani", prosecutors said.

Headley is alleged to have told prosecutors that he had been working with LeT since 2002.

He was arrested by FBI agents in Chicago in October 2009 while trying to board a plane for Philadelphia.

Earlier this month, Canadian-Pakistani businessman Tahawwur Rana was jailed in Chicago for 14 years for providing support to LeT.

Headley had been the government's star witness against Rana, an old friend from their days in a Pakistani military school.

The 60-hour assault on Mumbai began on 26 November 2008. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

The only surviving attacker, Pakistani Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, was executed in India last November.