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American sentenced to 35 years for role in Mumbai terrorism

(JTA) — An American citizen was sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping Islamist terrorists kill 160 people in India in 2008.

David Coleman Headley, 52, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. A victim of the Mumbai attacks appealed on behalf of herself and others for a life sentence, the Associated Press reported.

Headley, who is of Pakistani heritage, was arrested in October 2009 and agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators and intelligence officials, and to testify against one of his co-conspirators. He had mapped out the targets for attack, although he did not participate in the actual shootings.

Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 to all 12 counts in his indictment. The charges included conspiracy to bomb public places in India, conspiracy to murder and maim persons in India, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India.

The plea saved Headley from a death sentence; he could be freed before he is 80.

Among the dead in the coordinated attack on targets across Mumbai were six American citizens, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka, the Chabad emissaries in the city who were killed at its Chabad house.

Among those calling for a tough sentence were Kia Scherr, whose husband, Alan, and daughter, Naomi, 13, were killed. Her message was read by Linda Ragsdale, who was wounded in the attack.

The Scherrs and Ragsdale had been staying at a retreat targeted in the attack.

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