Where is the outrage in the Muslim community?
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
By BEN KESLING
CHICAGO—David Coleman Headley was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison Thursday primarily for his role in planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed more than 160 people, including six Americans.
Mr. Headley, a Pakistani-American, pleaded guilty to 12 terror-related counts in 2011. In exchange for cooperating with U.S. and Indian authorities, American prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty, and instead recommended 30 to 35 years in prison.
"Mr. Headley is a terrorist," U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said before issuing the sentence. "The easy thing for me to do would be to impose the death penalty, because that's what he deserves."
In a baggy gray prisoner's sweatsuit and blue New Balance running shoes, 52-year-old Mr. Headley stood with his hands clasped in front of him, avoiding eye contact and looking down during most of the proceeding.
"There is little question that life imprisonment would be an appropriate punishment but for the significant value provided by his immediate and extensive cooperation," prosecutors said in a paper detailing sentencing factors.
After Mr. Headley's arrest, he began offering assistance to federal authorities immediately, providing in-depth information about terror organizations, prosecutors said. The full scope of his assistance isn't publicly known, because he also provided "other information to assist authorities" which is currently classified, according to court documents.
"I don't have much faith in Mr. Headley saying that he's a changed man and that he believes in the American way of life," Judge Leinenweber said during sentencing.
Last week, co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in the attack. The Chicago businessman's conviction relied in large part on Mr. Headley's testimony. They met when they both attended a Pakistani boarding school as teenagers.
Mr. Headley, whose original name was Daood Gilani, was born in Washington, D.C., to an American mother and a Pakistani father. After being raised in Pakistan, he returned to the U.S., eventually serving two prison sentences for narcotics trafficking. After his second release, he moved back to Pakistan and attended five separate training camps run by terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, according to U.S. attorneys documents.
In 2006, he changed his name, prosecutors said, to make it easier to travel to India and Pakistan. He also began shuttling to Mumbai to conduct surveillance in preparation for the 2008 terror attack, opening a branch office of Mr. Rana's immigration service as a cover, prosecutors said.
The two men didn't take direct part in the attacks. But Mr. Headley's surveillance—facilitated in part by Mr. Rana—contributed to the complex assault, which involved multiple gunmen assisted by remotely located organizers who provided real-time directions via radio.
Mr. Headley was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2009 before he could board a flight to Pakistan to aid in planning an attack on a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, prosecutors said. Conspirators hoped to behead newspaper employees and throw the heads onto Copenhagen streets, prosecutors said. The sentence meted out Thursday also covered his conviction on charges related to the plot to attack the Danish newspaper.
Information that Mr. Headley gave to federal officials has led to criminal charges against at least seven other people, none of whom are in American custody, prosecutors said.