WASHINGTON - The United States has rejected an Indian demand to extradite David Headley, an American of Pakistani origin who was sentenced to 35 years for helping plan the 2008 attack on Mumbai, saying he will serve his jail term in America.
Asked to comment on a report that India would keep pressing for Headley’s extradition, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland Friday said, “He’s been tried, convicted and will serve in the United States.”
Headley is the son of an American mother and Pakistani father. He was born Daood Gilani, but changed his name in 2006.
Defending the Chicago court’s verdict, the spokesperson described Headley’s sentencing as a “positive example” of Indo-US counterterrorism cooperation, saying justice has been served.
“We promised that justice would be served, that justice is being served in this case,” Nuland told reporters at the daily press briefing on Friday, when asked about India’s protests over the court ruling.
India insists that the 35-year jail term awarded to Headley was not commensurate with the nature of his crime and that death penalty was required.
“David Headley, a key conspirator in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, has been brought to justice in the United States. He will serve 35 years in prison for his role in these heinous acts that claimed the lives of 166 people, including six Americans,” Nuland said. “The investigation and the prosecution of David Headley stems from the unprecedented and intense collaboration between the United States and Indian authorities in the counterterrorism sphere to bring all the people responsible for Mumbai to justice,” Nuland said.
Underscoring a statement by the Justice Department on the Headley trial, Nuland said “a key conspirator in the Mumbai terrorist attacks has been brought to justice in the United States”.
Headley, she noted, provided information of substantial value in US efforts against terrorism. This included testifying against co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana, providing extensive detail about accused terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri and his network, who was indicted in 2009 as well as submitting to questions from Indian law enforcement and working with US investigators.
Asked what message would it send from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Nuland said: “He’s been tried, convicted, and will serve in the United States.”
Agencies add: India has said that it will continue to press for the extradition of David Headley, sentenced by a US court to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attack, and would have liked harsher punishment.
Ministers, the ruling Congress as well as the opposition BJP said the government should keep trying for the extradition of the plotter who played a key role in the 26/11 attack. A day after a Chicago court’s ruling, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “Had we tried him, we would have sought much more. “We are a little disappointed as we wanted that he should have been brought here and tried as the real loss has been of India. It would have been appropriate if he would have been tried here,” Khurshid told reporters here.
The minister said there was the law of land in the US. “We know that, but we still hope and will try that such people should be brought here and tried,” he said.