[Illustration by ALEX FINE]
WASHINGTON POST: An American drug dealer who had faced life in prison was sentenced instead to 35 years Thursday for helping plan the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India — a punishment prosecutors said reflected his broad cooperation with U.S. investigators but that a victim’s family member called “an appalling dishonor.” It was David Coleman Headley’s meticulous scouting missions that facilitated the assault by 10 gunmen from a Pakistani-based militant group on multiple targets in Mumbai, including the landmark Taj Mahal Hotel. TV cameras captured much of the three-day rampage often called India’s 9/11. More than 160 people, including children, were killed. Glimpses of the horror came through the teary testimony of one of the victims who described the gory scene as she huddled under a restaurant table with her friends as gunmen sprayed the room with bullets, then walked around executing men, women and children one by one. Her own clothes soaked with blood. “I know what a bullet can do to every part of the human body,” said Linda Ragsdale, a Tennessee children’s author, who was shot. “I know the sound of life leaving a 13-year-old child. These are things I never needed to know, never needed to experience.” MORE
PREVIOUSLY: On the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2008, death came ashore at the Indian coastal city of Mumbai in the form of 10 Pakistani assassins aboard a rubber dinghy. Young and cocky, the killers were dressed in bluejeans and cargo pants, pumped up on steroids and ripped from months of rigorous physical training. They brandished AK-47s and carried backpacks loaded with grenades and ammo. When fisherman asked them what was going on, the gunmen told them in fluent Marathi to, in effect, go fuck themselves. The fishermen reported the incident to police who, tragically, paid it no mind.
Over the course of the next 50 hours, the gunmen would kill 173 people—including six Americans—and injure hundreds in a vicious three-day wave of violence, according to the Department of Justice. They split up into small groups and fanned out across the city, navigating by GPS and keeping in constant cell phone contact with their minders back in Pakistan. They blew up taxis, tossed grenades into crowds, murdered police officers and indiscriminately mowed down bystanders at a crowded cafe, movie theater and a train station with a blizzard of hot lead. They stormed two five-star hotels, set them on fire, took hostages and slowly tortured, disfigured and then executed them one by one.
One team of gunmen entered a women and children’s hospital with the intent of killing as many patients as they could, only to be thwarted by hospital staff that had locked down certain wards. Once inside, the gunmen again asked the staff their religious affiliation. When one man answered ‘Hindu’, they shot him in the head. Another team took over a Jewish center called the Mumbai Chabad House, where they killed six hostages, including a rabbi and his pregnant wife. The gunmen injected cocaine, LSD and steroids to enable them to fight police for 50 hours straight without food or sleep. According to eyewitnesses, they smiled while they killed. MORE