ISI handler sought progress report on Mumbai terror plot

Last Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 08:48

Chicago: Pakistani born Canadian Tahawwur Rana exchanged mails with the mysterious "Major Iqbal" of Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) about "progress made" on the Mumbai terror attack plot, an FBI agent has testified.

In an July 7, 2008 e-mail, "Major Iqbal", who confessed Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley says was involved in planning the Mumbai attack allegedly asked Rana if there was any "progress made on the project," the agent told a Chicago Federal court on Wednesday.

Prosecutors claim he was referring to the planned attacks, but defence attorneys have said any discussion Iqbal had with Rana centred on their plans to work as partners in Rana`s immigration business, according to Chicago Sun Times.

Headley testified earlier that Iqbal provided money to open an office of Rana`s business in Mumbai, which was used by the key Mumbai plotter as a cover to scout targets for the attack.

The message was one of the email and phone communications between Rana, Headley, and "Major Iqbal," who is also charged in the case, verified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, five of whom testified at Rana`s trial on Wednesday.

One witness, a linguist talked about the quality control behind translating the numerous recorded phone conversations between the men in Urdu and Punjabi.

The prosecution`s witnesses were aimed at bolstering their case that Rana, charged with providing material support to Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for the attack knew and helped his long time friend Headley to conduct surveillance.

Prosecution attorneys said on Wednesday that they had one remaining witness.

Prosecutors plan on presenting their last witness on Monday when the trial resumes. Closing arguments could begin as early as Tuesday.

An FBI agent also told the court that when Headley, was arrested at Chicago`s O`Hare International Airport in 2009Airport, he had a map of Copenhagen, a copy of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that had published cartoons of prophet Muhammad and a Jewish prayer book.

Two other FBI agents said they helped search Headley`s house and his luggage after he was arrested.

Rana had purchased Headley`s round-trip tickets to Copenhagen using Headley`s American Express, according to court testimony.

Although Rana`s lawyers earlier said they have not decided whether Rana will take the stand, they told US District Judge Harry Leinenweber the chances were slim, the Times said.

A computer expert and an Immigration lawyer from Canada are among some of the witnesses Rana`s defence may call during the trial, he said.

IANS



First Published: Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 08:48

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