US court adjourns hearing on Rana`s bail application

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 09:04

Chicago: A decision to release Tahawwur
Hussain Rana, one of the two LeT operatives arrested by FBI in
October on terror charges, on bond was on Thursday postponed till
December 15 by a federal judge here who said she needs more
time to review the evidences.

US Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan adjourned the matter
after one and a half hour bail hearing during which Rana`s
lawyer Patrick Blegen produced three character witnesses,
including his brother-in-law, described him as a "peaceful,
honest, trustworthy and non-violent person who cannot talk
about violence as he is a very peaceful person".

Judge Nolan, while adjourning the matter till December
15, said she would need a "week`s time" to read the statement,
including a five hour video of the Rana`s statement FBI after
his arrest in October, "if I am going to be able to be fair to
both sides."

"I would like to do a good job on it... as I am the
only judge that Rana has."

She also said that she needed time to study two
al Qaeda videos that were recovered from Rana`s house and go
through his emails with Headley that use coded messages.

Rana (48), who in an orange jumpsuit, remained silent
during the hearing, in which his family members, including his
parents-in-law, were also present.

During the hearing, one of the witnesses Mohammad
Arshad Mirza, a local eye doctor, said he knew Rana since they
were members of `Iqbal Society`, a body that exhorted Muslims
to be educated and organised people and to reach their goals
through non-violent, peaceful and constitutional means.

He said the cartoons of Prophet Muhammed, published in
a Danish newspaper, was discussed once there and "we said that
this is unfortunate, but what can one do. This is the kind of
time we are living in".

Another witness Raja Muhammed Yaqoob said about 20
people including members of Rana`s family met last Sunday to
understand Rana`s case and discuss how we can help him. "The
consensus among everyone was that Rana is a trustworthy,
honest and decent person".

Rana`s brother-in-law Athar Akhtar deposed "he was a
well-educated person and and has never expressed any opinion
in favour of violence. The whole family is well educated".

The witnesses said they did not have any conversation
regarding Illyas Kashmiri with Rana.

Prosecutor Assistant US Attorney Dan Collins said the
witnesses dont know real Rana, who maintained his relationship
with Headley and talked about `targets`. He also said Rana had
arranged for Headley`s travel to Denmark and other countries.

"He spent a significant amount of time with [Headley]
— a lot more time than the three witnesses who were put here
today," Collins said, adding they just don`t know this guy the
way the evidence reveals him to be.

"The word `target` is that man`s word, it came out of
his mouth," he said referring to a recorded phone call.

Referring to the mention of National Defence College
in the complaint against Rana, Blegen said his client assumed
Headley "was talking about National Defence College in
Pakistan and not National Defence College in India".

Blegen said there is no evidence that the National
Defence College being referred to in the complaint is the one
in India.

On al Qaeda DVDs being found in Rana`s house, Blegen
said while "Headley gave these videos to Rana, Rana has not
shown interest in them. Headley was giving things to Rana
which he has not shown interest in. It is clear that Rana does
not agree with things Headley gives him."

"The government reads terrorism into all his (Rana`s)
terms and most of his terms refer to business," Blegen said of
the statements Rana made either on recorded phone calls or to
investigators.

The prosecution mentioned that in five-hour statement
that Rana gave to FBI agents, he has said he was thinking of
expanding his meat business by opening a goat farm in Denmark.

He is also understood to have told agents that David
Coleman Headley, another suspect arrested by FBI on charges of
carrying out a major terror attack against India, admitted he
received training from terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Talking to reporters after the hearing, Blegen said he
feels the complaint against his client was "not as strong as
the prosecution is making it out to be".

On the decision regarding the bond hearing being
postponed, Blegen said it did not disturb him as "I know that
Judge Nolan is going to take everything into account and is
taking her time because it is a very complicated and serious
case.

"Obviously I would prefer to have him out and he has
been in custody for a long time but we are going to be as
patient as we can be".

Blegen said he was hopeful that Rana, a Pakistan-born
US-based Canadian citizen, would be released on December 15.

"I think he should be released and I know that Judge
Nolan will give it a great deal of thought.

It sounded to me as though Judge Nolan was indicating
that she would make her ruling on that day," he added.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 09:04

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