[JURIST] US citizen and Chicago resident David Headley pleaded guilty [press release] to 12 counts of federal terrorism Thursday, including charges related to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and an alleged plot against the Danish creator and publishers of controversial cartoons [JURIST news archive] depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The government had accused [indictment, PDF] Headley of conducting surveillance in preparation for the Mumbai attack for the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) [CFR backgrounder], which is blamed for the attack. Headley was also charged with conspiring to bomb the headquarters of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten [media website, in Danish], which published the cartoons. In January, Headly pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website]. It is thought he changed his plea to avoid extradition [BBC report] to India, Pakistan, or Denmark, or to avoid capital punishment.
In January, an Indian court rejected [JURIST report] a request by the lone surviving gunman from the Mumbai attacks for an international trial. Muhammad Ajmal Amir Kasab claimed he would not receive a fair trial in India. Kasab, whom India claims participated directly in the Mumbai attacks, said during his trial that he had met Headley while in jail after being arrested. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has charged [press release] three men along with Headley for their role [JURIST report] in the Mumbai attacks and plot against the Danish Newspaper. Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago resident with Canadian citizenship, was charged with three counts of providing material support to terrorism, one each for his alleged roles in the Denmark plan and Mumbai attacks, and a third for alleged involvement with LeT. Retired Pakistani military officer Abdur Rehman and Ilyas Kashmiri, who is believed to have ties to al Qaeda [JURIST news archive], were also named in the indictment. Both face one count of conspiracy and one count of providing material support to terrorism for their alleged participation in the Danish newspaper plot. Rana is in federal custody and has pleaded not guilty, and Rehman and Kashmiri remain at-large.