Rana Appears in Chicago Court Ahead of Trial

Chicago, May 12 (IANS) Pakistani-Canadian Chicago businessman Tahawwur Hussain Rana, co-accused with David Coleman Headley in the 2008 Mumbai terror, appeared in a federal court here ahead of one of the most significant terrorism trials in US.Rana's court appearance Wednesday was intended to smooth some legal wrinkles in a contentious and complicated case ahead of his trial starting May 16. The trial has far-reaching implications, not only in the US war on terror, but also in relations between the US, Pakistan and India with evidence expected to expose the role of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 26/11 attack.

Rana "has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested and continues to do so," said Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen.
Rana was duped by boyhood friend, Pakistani-American Headley and had no clue he was getting involved in a terrorist plot, he said.

Blegen said the Indian government officials hadn't approached him yet for access to Rana as reported in the media.

Son of a Pakistani father and American mother, Headley who changed his given name of "Daood Gilani" to scout targets for the Mumbai attack, has pleaded guilty to helping plot the attack by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit.

In court Wednesday, Rana dressed in an orange jump suit was well-groomed and well-mannered. Judge Harry Leineweber was to decide whether to make public the prosecutor's "Santiago filing" that details evidence in their case against Rana.

"I won't know until I see a good portion of the government's case whether my client will testify," Blegen said.

Headley has testified that he told Rana of the terror plot and how he wanted Rana's immigration aid business to provide him with a cover story by posing as a representative of Rana's Chicago office.

Headley will testify that with Rana's help he made five separate trips to Mumbai and took photographs and videos to help a team of heavily armed terrorists carry out assaults on hotels, public buildings and a Jewish centre.

Also charged in the case are four other top Pakistani terrorists and several men with alleged close connections to Pakistan's military and the ISI.


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