Headley pleads not guilty to charges regarding 26/11
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 28, 2010, 00:21
Chicago: Charged with conspiring in the Mumbai terror strike, Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) operative David Headley today pleaded not guilty to all the charges of helping arrange the attack on targets in Mumbai and on a Danish newspaper.

49-year-old Headley entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges against him in the superseding indictment returned on January 14 when he appeared for his arraignment before US Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in US District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

Wearing a regular US prison uniform--an orange jumpsuit, Headley's hands and legs were shackled while he appeared in the court for the second time in two months.

He answered briefly when the judge asked him that he understood the charges. "I do your honour."

The next status hearing has been set for February 23 but Headley's lawyers have requested that his presence be waived. Therefore, Headley is not required to be present in the court for his hearing on that date.

Co-accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is Headley's accomplice and Pakistani-Canadian LeT operative, appeared in the same court on Monday and had also pleaded not guilty to providing material support to terror plots in Mumbai and Denmark.

While Headley's presence had been waived by the defence, which means the terror suspect need not be present at court hearings, officials said he has to be present in court for his arraignment today.

This would be Headley's second appearance in court after he was produced in court in December last year. He had then pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.

Headley and Rana were on January 14 indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of being involved in the Mumbai terror attacks and planning a terror strike against a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen.

The 12-count superseding indictment contains the identical charges that were filed against Headley on December 7 while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of terrorist group.

Headley and Rana are held up in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in downtown here.

In its 12-count superseding indictment against the two Chicagoans on January 14, the jury gave extensive details of the planning of the Mumbai attack by the LeT and how its leaders guided the terrorists during the four-day siege beginning November 26, 2008.

The 12-count superseding indictment contained the identical charges that were filed against Headley on December 7, 2009, while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of the designated foreign terrorist organisation LeT.

Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistan-based terrorist linked to al-Qaeda, and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military, were also indicted along with Headley and Rana.

Rana, who owns the Chicago-based First World Immigration Services that Headley allegedly used as a cover, insists that he is a pacifist who was "duped" by his friend.

Did Headley try to kill a woman 'friend'?

Did Pakistani-American terror suspect David Headley try to eliminate his woman 'friend'--a former woman hotel executive-- who could provide vital evidence to investigators?

Piecing together material and circumstantial evidence collected during the probe, security agencies have raised this question after finding that attackers of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba(LeT) behind 26/11 had planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) below the bakery at Hotel Oberoi which was one of the scenes of the carnage. The woman's family ran the bakery in the luxury hotel.

Official sources said today the IED, which was found planted under the bakery, might have been kept there at the instruction of Headley as he possibly wanted no crucial evidence about his presence in Mumbai.

The sources said the woman had told the probe team about the places frequented by Headley and his association with various people including Rahul Bhatt and other socialities who have been questioned by the National Investigation Agency in detail. The woman's identity was not revealed.

The mother of the 30-year-old woman sought to downplay her alleged friendship with Headley while the sources said the executive had accompanied him to various dinners and late night parties.

The statement of the woman had since been recorded by the NIA, which has registered cases against Headley and his Pakistani-Candian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the country and under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.


First Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010, 00:21

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