Chicago Businessman Unlikely to Testify at Trial
by IPT News • Jun 2, 2011 at 2:40 am
Tahawwur Rana allowed the Mumbai office of his immigration business to provide cover to longtime friend David Headley to scout targets for the three-day rampage in India's financial capital for the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). The attacks killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Rana has also been charged in another plot to attack the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper whose 2005 publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad unleashed a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world.
Headley has pleaded guilty to his role in the Mumbai and Denmark plots and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities. Six witnesses, including four FBI agents, took the stand Wednesday.
Headley was arrested in October 2009 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport while he was on his way to Pakistan to deliver surveillance videos of the Jyllands-Posten offices to al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri, who had promised to help out with the Denmark attacks after Lashkar backed out at the last moment.
A map of Copenhagen, a copy of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and a Jewish prayer book were found on Headley when he was arrested, FBI agent Douglas Seccombe testified. In earlier testimony Headley had said that he had obtained a Jewish prayer book to help disguise himself as a Jew when conducting the Denmark operation.
Court testimony also revealed that Rana had used Headley's American Express card to purchase roundtrip tickets for Headley to Copenhagen.
In his five days of testimony, Headley said members of Pakistan's powerful intelligence services, the ISI, helped plot and finance the Mumbai attacks.
During cross-examination Tuesday, however, he said that high-ranking officials within the ISI were unaware of the Mumbai plot. "My belief is that all of ISI did not know," Headley said.
"I was only in contact with him [Headley's ISI handler Major Iqbal] but I suspect his colonel knew about it," he added.
The testimony conforms with Headley's earlier statement to Indian interrogators that the director general of the ISI, Ahmed Sujja Pasha, had been ignorant about the attacks and had met with jailed Lashkar chief, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi learn more about the plot.
During the cross-examination, defense attorneys tried to portray Headley as a liar who has sought to implicate his friend to avoid the death penalty and possible extradition to India, Pakistan, or Denmark.
"He hides the truth from everyone," Rana's attorney Charles Swift said. "David Headley at the center is a spider who maneuvers everything in the web so it works out his way."
In a recorded conversation from last November, Headley is reported to have told his wife that he made a "big sacrifice" to secure her release as well as that of his brother in Pakistan. Defense attorney Patrick Blegen argued that the "big sacrifice" alluded to by Headley was his childhood friend Rana whose business Headley used as a cover for his reconnaissance missions.
Evidence also emerged in court that Headley had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder in 1992. Headley earlier denied the allegation saying "I don't recall it." However when Defense Attorney Patrick Blegen offered to present the medical records, Headley replied, "I will accept it."