Headley pleads not guilty to charges regarding 26/11

Last Updated: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 00:21

Chicago: Charged with conspiring in the
Mumbai terror strike, Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT)
operative David Headley today pleaded not guilty to all the
charges of helping arrange the attack on targets in Mumbai and
on a Danish newspaper.

49-year-old Headley entered a plea of not guilty to
all the charges against him in the superseding indictment
returned on January 14 when he appeared for his arraignment
before US Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in US District Court,
Northern District of Illinois.

Wearing a regular US prison uniform--an orange
jumpsuit, Headley`s hands and legs were shackled while he
appeared in the court for the second time in two months.

He answered briefly when the judge asked him that he
understood the charges. "I do your honour."

The next status hearing has been set for February 23
but Headley`s lawyers have requested that his presence be
waived. Therefore, Headley is not required to be present in the
court for his hearing on that date.

Co-accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is Headley`s
accomplice and Pakistani-Canadian LeT operative, appeared in
the same court on Monday and had also pleaded not guilty to
providing material support to terror plots in Mumbai and
Denmark.

While Headley`s presence had been waived by the
defence, which means the terror suspect need not be present at
court hearings, officials said he has to be present in court
for his arraignment today.

This would be Headley`s second appearance in court
after he was produced in court in December last year. He had
then pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.

Headley and Rana were on January 14 indicted by a
federal grand jury on charges of being involved in the Mumbai
terror attacks and planning a terror strike against a Danish
newspaper in Copenhagen.

The 12-count superseding indictment contains the
identical charges that were filed against Headley on December
7 while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts
charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark
and India, as well as in support of terrorist group.

Headley and Rana are held up in the Metropolitan
Correctional Centre in downtown here.

In its 12-count superseding indictment against the two
Chicagoans on January 14, the jury gave extensive details of
the planning of the Mumbai attack by the LeT and how its
leaders guided the terrorists during the four-day siege
beginning November 26, 2008.

The 12-count superseding indictment contained the
identical charges that were filed against Headley on December
7, 2009, while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the
counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in
Denmark and India, as well as in support of the designated
foreign terrorist organisation LeT.

Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistan-based terrorist linked to
al-Qaeda, and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the
Pakistani military, were also indicted along with Headley and
Rana.

Rana, who owns the Chicago-based First World
Immigration Services that Headley allegedly used as a cover,
insists that he is a pacifist who was "duped" by his friend.

Did Headley try to kill a woman `friend`?

Did Pakistani-American terror
suspect David Headley try to eliminate his woman `friend`--a
former woman hotel executive-- who could provide vital
evidence to investigators?

Piecing together material and circumstantial evidence
collected during the probe, security agencies have raised this
question after finding that attackers of Pakistan-based terror
outfit Lashker-e-Taiba(LeT) behind 26/11 had planted an
Improvised Explosive Device (IED) below the bakery at Hotel
Oberoi which was one of the scenes of the carnage. The woman`s
family ran the bakery in the luxury hotel.

Official sources said today the IED, which was found
planted under the bakery, might have been kept there at the
instruction of Headley as he possibly wanted no crucial
evidence about his presence in Mumbai.

The sources said the woman had told the probe team about
the places frequented by Headley and his association with
various people including Rahul Bhatt and other socialities who
have been questioned by the National Investigation Agency in
detail. The woman`s identity was not revealed.

The mother of the 30-year-old woman sought to downplay
her alleged friendship with Headley while the sources said
the executive had accompanied him to various dinners and late
night parties.

The statement of the woman had since been recorded by
the NIA, which has registered cases against Headley and his
Pakistani-Candian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for allegedly
conspiring to wage a war against the country and under
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 00:21

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