‘Ilyas Kashmiri planned killing Lockheed CEO over drone`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 22:46
Chicago: The Mumbai attack trial in a US court resumed on Tuesday with co-accused David Headley testifying that al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri had a plan to kill CEO of Lockheed Martin in frustration over drone attacks along the Af-Pak border.

Headley, a Pakistani-American, said this while being cross-examined by defence lawyer of Tawahhur Hussain Rana, a 26/11 co-accused and a Canadian of Pakistani origin who is standing trial after being slapped with a dozen charges in connection with the Mumbai attacks in which 166 persons were killed.

"(Ilyas) Kashmiri had plan to kill CEO of Lockheed Martin to stop any further drone attacks," Headley said, adding the dreaded al Qaeda leader plotted the killing out of frustration over the attacks on the volatile Af-Pak border.

Lockheed are manufacturers of drone planes which are being used by American forces to strike targets at militant hideouts.

Headley replied in the negative when asked if he was working on a plot to kill the Lockheed Martin boss.

Headley, who has pleaded guilty in the case, testified that Kashmiri had arranged for men to carry out surveillance in the US in connection with the plot to kill the Lockheed CEO.

He also said that he tried to get a longer visa to stay in Pakistan through his school friend Aman Rashid who worked at Pakistan consulate in Chicago.

The trial has so far focussed on the testimony of Headley who has exposed the nexus between ISI and LeT in carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks.

As the trial unfolded, more links between ISI and LeT are emerging with Headley narrating his side of the story that he started straying away from the so-called "ISI Jihad" with Major Iqbal and Sajid Mir toward a more "holy jihad" with Pasha or Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major from the Pakistani Army, who connected Headley with Kashmiri.

The cross-questioning of Headley is expected to finish by Wednesday.

After that FBI agents will be presented by the government at the trial that is being held here on the 19th floor of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

While Headley has pleaded guilty, Rana has maintained that he is not guilty in the charge of "support to terrorism". The trial is expected to last till June 15. If convicted Rana faces a possible life sentence.

Rana is accused of providing his longtime friend Headley with cover as he conducted surveillance for the attacks. Headley has pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork in the carnage.

Defense attorneys for Rana wasted no time last week attacking the credibility of Headley, who spent days detailing for prosecutors how he took orders from ISI and LeT.

"We're only just getting started," Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen told US District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber last week.

Though Rana is on trial, it is Headley's testimony that has been highly anticipated, especially in the wake of the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces inside Pakistan and suspicions that the country's government may have known or helped hide the former al Qaeda leader.


First Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 22:46

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