India court confirms charges against Mumbai terror suspects

[JURIST] A New Delhi court on Saturday confirmed the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) [official website] charges against US citizen David Headley and eight others, including Canadian citizen Tahawwur Rana, for their roles in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The agency accused [press release, PDF] the terrorist organizations Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) [SATP backgrounders] of using Headley, a member of LeT, for his "Caucasion looks" and American accent to gather tactical information on potential Indian terror attack sites. Rana allegedly provided financial support to Headley and used contacts which he had gained while doing business for an immigration consultancy group in Chicago. The charge sheet also accuses several Pakistani military officials of providing aid for the terror attack.

In March 2010 an Indian court heard final arguments [JURIST report] in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab [NDTV backgrounder], the lone surviving gunman, for his role in the terror attack. Kasab requested an international trial, arguing that he could not receive a fair trial in India, but was denied [JURIST report]. He also withdrew his confession, claiming that he was tortured and framed by the police [JURIST report] but the confession was nonetheless admitted against him. Earlier that month Headley pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in the US to 12 counts of federal terrorism for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack and a plot to bomb the headquarters of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten [media website, in Danish], which published controversial cartoons [JURIST news archive] depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Headley initially pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] but likely changed his plea to avoid extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark, or to avoid capital punishment.

 

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