March 17, 2010 -- Accused Mumbai attack planner David Coleman Headley intends to abandon his not guilty plea and enter a plea of guilty in federal court this week, his lawyer told ABC News today.
"He's scheduled for a change of plea, I expect that to happen Thursday," Headley's lawyer John Theis said. "I think on Thursday there will be a written plea agreement between Mr. Headley and the government that will spell everything out."
The plea will be entered in federal court in Chicago before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.
Headley, 49, an American of Pakistanki descent, pleaded not guilty in January to 12 counts, including six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and Denmark, providing material support to foreign terrorist plots. The indictment also included six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India. He faced the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. Theis would not go into the details of how many of the charges Headley's new plea would address.
Headley was born in the United States in 1960, but spent most of his childhood in Pakistan before returning to Chicago. The FBI has accused Headley of attending a Laskar-e-Taiba training camp in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003, Laskar-e-Taiba is a Pakistan based militant group accused of being behind the training and plotting of the Mumbai attacks.
According to the FBI and court documents, Headley is accused of traveling to India from 2006 to 2008 to take video and photographs of targets that were later hit in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 170 people.
Headly was arrested five months ago at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and government officials have said they believed he was enroute to Pakistan after a stop in Philadelphia to confer with co-conspirators.
According to the FBI, shortly after his arrest Headly began providing authorities with information regarding the attacks in Mumbai and an alleged plot against a Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, which published cartoons in 2005 making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons sparked anger and outrage within the international Muslim community.
Headley's statements to the authorities are credited with helping pave the way for the arrest of another Chicago resident and businessman, Tahawwur Rana. In the indictment Headley is accused of meeting and planning with Rana while at the Laskar-e-Taiba camp. The indictment also alleges Headley met with Rana in Chicago in 2006, before he traveled to India to scout targets and again in 2008 before traveling to Denmark, where Rana allegedly provided Headley with material support and a cover for his travels.
Headley's Accused Conspirator Not Expected to Plead Guilty
Rana, 49, has been indicted on three counts of providing material support to terrorism, one count of providing providing material support in preparation for and in carrying out the Mumbai attacks; one count of providing material support to the Denmark terrorism plot; and one count of providing material support to Laskar-e-Taiba.
Rana has plead not guilty, and according to authorities remains in Federal custody while awaiting trial.