India Monitoring Rana Trial in US

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) India will be closely monitoring the trial in the US of Pakistani Tahawwur Rana, who is accused of planning with David Headley the 2008 Mumbai attack that was allegedly financed by an officer of Pakistan's spy agency.

The trial is set to begin in Chicago Monday morning (2130 IST), nearly 16 months after a US federal jury indicted Rana alleging that he and Headley participated in conspiracies involving a planned terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper and the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

Rana, 50, a Canadian citizen, living in Chicago but born in Pakistan, has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested Oct 18, 2009, in connection with the planned attacks.

He was indicted for providing material support to terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba that operates from Pakistan. The LeT is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US.

Headley who is not on trial as he has entered into a confessional plea bargain with the US had told Indian investigators in June last year that an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer known as Major Iqbal had given him financial help for scouting identified terror targets in India.

Headley claimed that two years before terrorists attacked Mumbai, he laid the groundwork with Rana for the strike for which Major Iqbal had given him $25,000.

Headley as a witness against Rana is set to recount his story of the Mumbai attack plan in the Chicago court.

Government sources here said that that the trial would unfold nothing new but it would provide "evidence" against the ISI for its links with terrorists.

"The ISI sponsoring the Mumbai attack is no news. We are not waiting for that. What we would be looking at is an evidence against the ISI that will corroborate what India has been saying all these months," an top official told IANS.

The trial has gained significance also because it come at a time when Pakistan is battling charges of sheltering terrorists following the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the heart of Pakistan.

Pakistani has been dismissing Headley's confession against the ISI.


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