UPDATED 05/11/11 5:54 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the deadliest terror attacks in history may have been plotted right here in Chicago, according to federal prosecutors.
And as CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, one of the men accused of the scheme is about to go on trial at the Dirksen Federal Building downtown.
Federal authorities charge the bloody 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India’s largest city, were planned, in part, locally. The man prosecutors say assisted in the plot, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, is scheduled to go on trial on Monday.
At least two of the charges against Rana carry life sentences in prison. However, according to his attorney, the low-key businessman who owns a grocery on Devon Avenue in Chicago hasn’t wavered.
“He has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested and he continues to do so,” said attorney Patrick Blegen.
Last year in federal court, Rana’s close friend, David Coleman Headley, pleaded guilty to traveling to India five times to scout sites for Pakistani terrorists in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The three-day assault targeted hotels and train stations and killed at least 170 people.
Prosecutors say Rana 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 Campbell Street home. 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.
Jury selection in Rana’s trial begins next week.
“Obviously, it’s very difficult on him. It’s very difficult on his family, but he is doing his best and looking forward to getting started on Monday,” Blegan said.
Headley cut a deal with prosecutors. He will testify against Rana–in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
Rana’s trial is expected to last four weeks with very tight security.