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Lesser sentence sought for David Headley

Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:03 AM

CHICAGO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors sought a lighter sentence of up to 35 years in prison for a Pakistani-American for his role in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro in Chicago, where a U.S. District Court is scheduled to sentence David Coleman Headley Thursday, sought a sentence of 30 to 35 years in his sentencing papers to the judge, CNN reported. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

Headley, who had admitted to doing surveillance activities ahead of the Mumbai attacks, also testified in the trial of his co-defendant and childhood friend, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian. Rana was sentenced in the same court last week to 14 years in jail for conspiring to provide material support to Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba terror group in the Mumbai attacks and for conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist plot in Denmark.

Rana, a former doctor who operated an immigration business in Chicago, also was accused of providing "critical support" to Headley and other terrorists.

Prosecutors earlier had agreed not to seek the death penalty for Headley in exchange for his plea. Headley reportedly had provided valuable intelligence about terrorist activities to U.S. authorities.

In his court papers on Headley, Shapiro said, "While his criminal conduct was deplorable, the uniquely significant cooperation which he provided to the government's efforts to combat terrorism supports the government's recommendations."

Prosecutors have said the Pakistan-based LeT planned and carried out the three-day Mumbai attacks by 10 gunmen in which more than 160 people died, including six Americans.

The Chicago Tribune said in sentencing Headley, who was arrested in 2009 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber must weigh between an admitted terrorist's actions that led to the horrible carnage in Mumbai and his information to authorities about the LeT, which also led to charges against seven others, including al-Qaida-linked terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri.

"This is not a wannabe terrorist," Karen Greenberg at the Center on National Security at Fordham University told the Tribune in a telephone interview. "Headley is very unusual in terms of prominence inside an international terrorist network."

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