Suspect In Mumbai Terror Case To Go On Trial In Chicago
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A trial getting underway Monday in Chicago could expose more problems in the already-strained relations between the United States and Pakistan.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, jury selection begins Monday for the trial of Tahawwur Rana, who is charged with helping a former boarding school friend scout for the militant group that carried out a three-day attack in Mumbai, India.
The friend, David Coleman Headley, pleaded guilty last year in federal court to traveling to India five times to scout sites for Pakistani terrorists in the 2008 attacks.
The three-day assault targeted hotels and train stations and killed at least 170 people.
Headley reached the plea deal in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and previously had been an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after a drug conviction.
Details of possible testimony from Headley were revealed last year in an Indian government report, detailing what he had allegedly told Indian investigators during questioning in Chicago.
In the report, Headley is cited describing how Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence was deeply involved in planning the Mumbai attacks and how he reported to a man known only as “Major Iqbal,” whom he called his “handler” in the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
But some experts have suggested Iqbal as a retired ISI officer also. In the indictment his name is listed as unknown, and some have even doubted his existence.
As for Rana, prosecutors say he provided key assistance, letting Headley use another business he owns, First World Immigration Services, as cover for his travels. Now, Headley will be the prosecution’s star witness against Rana.
Rana’s attorney says his client was duped by an old friend.
“We’re very much looking forward to cross-examining Headley,” Belgen said.
Prosecutors charge that terrorist DVDs were found inside Rana’s home on North Campbell Avenue. The DVDs called for attacks against a Danish newspaper for cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Rana allegedly gave Headley the green light to pose as his business agent, while Headley scouted the Copehagen office of the newspaper, but the paper was never attacked.
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