26/11: Rana dubs Headley `unrepentant terrorist`
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Last Updated: Sunday, March 04, 2012, 21:44
  
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 country.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, March 04, 2012, 21:44


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