Headley, Treasure Trove of Info on Terrorism: Prosecution

Chicago, June 8 (IANS) US prosecutors have dubbed confessed Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley "an awful man" but defended a plea deal with him saying he carried a treasure trove of information on international terrorism.

"What would you have your government do?" asked Assistant US Attorney Victoria Peters in her closing arguments Tuesday in the federal trial of Headley's military school friend Pakistan-born Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana.

"(Say) 'I'm sorry, you're a despicable person.... We're not interested in your information?'" she asked about Headley, who has pleaded guilty to plotting the 26/ 11 Mumbai attack and to an aborted plot to attack a Danish newspaper, to avoid the death penalty.

Rana, 50, accused of providing material support to Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the November 2008 terror attack, was part of the deadly "inner circle," plotting the attacks, Peters said wrapping up prosecution's arguments, according to Chicago Tribune.

But Rana's attorney, Patrick Blegen, said his client was the victim of prosecution's star witness Headley, whom he described as a con man who used Rana to ease his travel abroad as he planned the Mumbai attacks.

"Nothing is simple when it comes to David Headley. He thinks he can fool everyone, but he can't fool you" Blegen told jurors.

Rana is a hopeful "dreamer" whose ambitions include opening immigration offices all around the world and making a kaleidoscopic Bollywood movie, his attorneys said.

But federal prosecutors said the only goal Rana focused on was helping his "trained terrorist friend" who had sinister visions of death and destruction, Chicago Sun Times reported.

Jurors will begin deliberating Wednesday on whether Rana was an innocent Chicago businessman used by his childhood pal or a crucial player in the Mumbai attack and Denmark plots.

Rana was "not a dupe" or made a "fool" when Headley went overseas and used Rana's business as a cover as he lay the groundwork for the two terror plots, Peters said.

Headley never kept his military school buddy "in the dark," she said.

Headley shared coded emails he exchanged with his co-conspirators and openly expressed his animosity toward India and belief that those responsible for the "offensive" depictions of the revered Muslim prophet should be "hanged," Peters said.

Rana had even concocted a phony email so the two could easily discuss the plots and years before Headley stepped foot in India, Headley had revealed to Rana that he trained with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, held responsible for the Mumbai carnage, she said.

"He knows exactly who David Headley is and he knows what he's about," Peters said. "David Headley didn't do anything alone. He did it with the defendant's help."

Blegen said Rana got "the shaft" from his troubled friend - a convicted heroin dealer and philanderer with starkly different religious views than Rana's.

Headley needed Rana to finance his "projects," so he "gamed him," Blegen said "He (Headley) is a lifelong manipulator, liar, con man," Blegen was quoted as saying.

Blegen told jurors had Rana known about the Mumbai attacks or Danish plot, he never would have visited India days before the bloodshed or suggested that Headley take an elderly Christian lawyer to Copenhagen with him.

If Rana was part of Headley's inner circle, why did he need to be warned not to come back to India by a Headley cohort? Blegen questioned.

"Do you think the Cardinal tells the Pope in Rome that Christmas is coming?" Blegen said.


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