Chicago: The imminent trial of Pakistan-born
Canadian citizen Tahawwur Rana, co-accused with David Headley
in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, could reveal ISI`s links to
terrorists and any evidence of spy agency`s "malfeasance"
would worsen US-Pakistan relations.
Rana, 50, who was indicted by a federal grand jury under
12 counts on February 15 last year for planning the attacks,
providing material support to LeT to carry out the attacks and
guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai in the process,
is set to go on trial in Chicago tomorrow.
As the United States presses Pakistan for answers about
whether the ISI played a role in harbouring Osama bin Laden,
Headley, who himself is not on trial but will be the main
witness against Rana, is set to recount his story of the
Mumbai attack in a federal courthouse.
"What he discloses could deepen suspicions that Pakistani
spies are connected to terrorists and could potentially worsen
relations between Washington and Islamabad," New York Times
Headley, 50, Rana`s old friend from military school in
Pakistan, claims that two years before terrorists struck the
Indian port city of Mumbai, he began laying the groundwork for
the attack, financed by USD 25,000 from an officer in
Pakistan`s powerful intelligence service.
Pakistani-American Headley had told Indian investigators
that the officer, known only as Major Iqbal, "listened to my
entire plan to attack India." Another officer with the
intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence
Directorate, "assured me of the financial help," the Times
Pakistan has been dismissing Headley`s accusations
against the ISI as little more than a desperate performance by
a man hoping to avoid the death penalty.
An American official who spoke on the condition of
anonymity told the Times that no agreement exists in
Washington on whether the ISI guided Headley and the attacks
"It`s not very clear," the official said. "A lot of this
is going to come out of the trial. His claim could just be his
But, the very fact that the government is presenting
Headley as a prosecution witness suggests that at least some
in the government believe he is telling the truth. The
authorities said they expected the government to present
e-mails and tapes of telephone conversations to support his
story, the report said,
"Any new evidence of ISI malfeasance that emerges from the
trial will reverberate in Washington," the daily said.
On April 25, in a second superseding indictment, US
prosecutors charged four additional men, all Pakistani
residents, in the 26/11 terror attacks that left 166 dead
including six Americans.
Bruce O Riedel, a terrorism expert at the Brookings
Institution and former Central Intelligence Agency officer,
predicted that the trial would be "the next nail in the coffin
of US-Pakistan relations, as the ISI`s role in the murder of
six Americans is revealed in graphic detail."
American authorities have kept much of the evidence
secret. Citing national security concerns, they have
successfully moved to quash the defence lawyers` subpoenas for
State Department cables and records held by the FBI that
discuss Pakistan`s links with militants.
And though the government has charged four other men,
including the officer known as Major Iqbal, with aiding and
abetting the murder of American citizens, the indictment
refers to them either as commanders or associates of the
militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, not as having links to the
A growing chorus on Capitol Hill argues that the
discovery of bin Laden`s hideout in Abbottabad and the
evidence in Headley`s case leave no doubt that the ISI and its
Pakistani military overseers have played a cynical double game
with the United States, the Times said.