Chicago: Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana has
told a US court that his friend David Headley, convicted in
26/11 Mumbai attack, was an "unrepentant terrorist" and he had
knowledge of latter's "link" with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
In his latest submission before a Chicago court, Rana,
however, has challenged the Government's assertion that he
does not require a fresh trial.
Last year, a grand jury in Chicago had found Rana guilty
of providing material support to support LeT and plotting
attack on a Danish newspaper along with Headley.
Though he was acquitted on charges of being involved in
the 26/11 attacks, an Indian has asked the National
Investigating Agency to produce him before it on March 13 to
question him on his alleged role in the Mumbai massacre by
Pakistan-based LeT terrorists in November 2008 that claimed
166 lives, including six Americans.
"Headley is an unrepentant terrorist who has repeatedly
lied to those close to him, to law enforcement, to the
government and to the jury," alleged Rana's attorney Patrick
Blegen in a submission before the US court on Friday.
Blegen argues that 51-year-old Rana's knowledge of
"links" between Pakistani-American Headley and LeT, a
designated terrorist outfit, is not enough evidence to prove
him guilty and this there is the need of a fresh trial.
However, federal prosecutors have, argued, in their
submissions, that the court should proceed with the motion to
sentence him on these two counts - providing material support
to LeT and plotting attack on a Danish newspaper.
This could result him a maximum of 30 years in prison.
"The evidence presented at trial showed that defendant
and Headley performed nearly identical roles with respect to
the India and Denmark plots. Headley was tasked by Lashkar
with performing surveillance of terrorist targets in both
India and Denmark," federal prosecutors said.
Rana, the federal prosecutors insisted, agreed to assist
Headley in both the Mumbai and Danish plots in the same manner
by, among other things, providing his immigration business as
cover for Headley's terrorist activities.
Federal prosecutors argue that the evidence demonstrated
that Rana knowingly provided material support to LeT.
Rana "knew that Headley was working for Lashkar, and
directly assisted him by, among many other steps, providing a
cover story for Headley's travels and otherwise acting to
conceal the true nature of Headley’s activities".
Rana, according to federal prosecutors, after his arrest
admitted that he knew Headley had been affiliated with LeT for
five to six years; knew that LeT had changed its name to
Jamat-ud-Dawa because the United States had banned LeT; knew
Headley had trained with LeT.
Rana also admitted that he knew Headley acted as a link
between LeT and ISI, who provided guns to the terror group;
that Headley was helping both organisations ? LeT and ISI; and
knew co-defendant Sajid Mir was a LeT associate who was
working with Headley, federal prosecutors said.
However, Blegan argues that though Rana knew of Headley’s
links, Headley can't be considered as credible evidence.
The government attempts to justify Rana's convictions by
illustrating the connection that he and Headley have shared
since childhood, he said, adding that federal prosecutors
infers from this connection that Rana was involved in the
criminal aspects of Headley's life.
Referring to the last year's Rana trial in which Headley
was a prime witness, Blegen argued that the government's case
was deficient in that it failed to prove that Rana conspired
to provide material support to terrorism in Denmark or that he
substantively provided material support to the LeT.
Headley, who conducted surveillance operations in Mumbai
for LeT targets, entered a plea bargain with the US
authorities under which he would not be extradited to a third
First Published: Sunday, March 04, 2012, 21:44