India today expressed disappointment over the US’ refusal to extradite Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist David Headley even as it vowed to continue to pursue with its demand for bringing him here for his role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also sent out a strong message to Pakistan saying there cannot be “any form of closure” to the Mumbai attacks unless all perpetrators, including LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, are brought to book.
He said India cannot “celebrate or be satisfied quickly” by some “hopeful” signs that emerged from Pakistan with regard to the case until people involved in the terror attacks on Mumbai are made accountable.
On Headley, he said India would continue with its demands though it understands that America has to adhere to its legal structure.
“Well it is disappointing, undoubtedly it is disappointing but we understand that they have a legal structure which has to be adhered to. We were anxious and we were wishing that the trial takes place here but it has taken place there (in US),” Mr Khurshid said.
He was asked to comment on US Attorney Gary S Shapiro testifying before a court yesterday ruling out extradition of Headley under a guilty plea that the Pakistani-American had entered into with the US government.
Noting that India wanted Headley to be punished for his role in the 26/11 attacks, he said the country was always firm that people involved in the attacks should be punished.
“I would imagine that the Home Minister (Sushil Kumar Shinde) would want us to continue with the demand (for extraditing Headley),” he said.
On Pakistan not acting against Saeed and whether India was disappointed with the US for not pursuing the case against the LeT chief aggressively, he hoped the US would take the issue further.
Headley was a planner of the Mumbai jihad attack:
“Headley played an essential role in the planning of a horrific terrorist attack.” He “not only worked at the direction of Lashkar-e-Taiba for years, but also with members of Al Qaeda.”
“Undeterred by the shocking images of death and destruction that came out of Mumbai in November 2008, Headley travelled to Denmark less than two months later to advance a plan to commit another terrorist attack,” he added.
Headley, 52, son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, who changed his given name of Dawood Gilani to scout targets in Mumbai without arousing suspicion, has pleaded guilty to his role in the attack that killed 160 people.
Headley could receive up to life in prison. Prosecutors had agreed not to seek the death penalty for Headley in exchange for his plea after he promised in 2010 to cooperate with US authorities.
US Attorney General Eric Holder noted at the time that he had provided extensive “valuable intelligence about terrorist activities.”
Holder never met a terrorist he didn’t like or help.
More on Headley here.