Rana Knew Well in Advance about Mumbai Attacks - FBI

Chicago/Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) Pakistan-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Hussain Rana "knew well in advance" about the deadly Mumbai terror attacks, blamed on Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT), and offered congratulations to the killers, according to "fresh evidence" filed by the FBI.

In papers filed in federal court in Chicago Monday, prosecutors said Rana, who was arrested last month along with another Pakistani-American terror suspect David Headley, learned an attack was about to happen while travelling in Dubai days before the Nov 26, 2008 attack on India's financial hub.

Rana, 48, a Canadian citizen who is charged with providing material support to terrorists, told Headley, 49, after the Mumbai attacks to pass along his congratulations to the terrorist group for its excellent planning and preparation, prosecutors said.

"Rana was told of the attacks before they happened and offered compliments and congratulations to those who carried them out afterwards," Assistant US Attorney Daniel Collins wrote in the court filing.

Refuting Rana's claims that he believed in non-violence and that his beliefs are akin to those of Mahatma Gandhi, prosecutors said: "Ironically, in invoking the name of a man who embodied the principles of non-violence and speaking the truth, Rana seeks to mislead this court as to the extent of his admiration and support for mass murderers," federal prosecutors said.

"Even if one were to credit Rana's false post-arrest claim that his compliments were directed to 'one of the main planners' for LeT - a designated terrorist organisation - only related to attacks in Kashmir, it is quite clear that Rana is no Gandhi," the FBI said.

Referring to the taped telephonic conversation that Rana had with another terror suspect David Coleman Headley during a long car drive on Sep 7, 2009, the FBI said the duo had discussed about the Mumbai terrorist attack in Nov 2008.

"It is clear from the conversation and extrinsic corroboration that Rana was told just days before the Mumbai attacks that the attacks were about to happen.

"Elsewhere in the conversation, Rana asked Headley to pass Rana's compliments directly to the specific Lashkar-e-Taeba member they both knew who had coordinated the attacks," the FBI filing said.

"Later in that conversation, Rana and Headley both discussed targeting the National Defence College in Delhi, India for a future attack. Simply put, Rana's own statements in this conversation, among others, completely belie his argument to this court that he is either a dupe or pacifist," it said.

The FBI alleged that Rana met Abdur Rahman Hashim Syed, a retired Pakistani Army Brigadier, who is known as "Pasha" in Dubai.

"Pasha" is a retired Pakistani military officer who was allegedly Headley's direct link to Ilyas Kashmiri, one of Pakistan's most wanted terrorists and a direct link to Al Qaeda.

The FBI produced portions of the transcripts that discuss how Rana had learned during an in-person meeting between him and Pasha in Dubai that the Mumbai attacks were to happen.

"Travel records for Rana corroborate that he was in Dubai days before the Mumbai attacks and was returning from China when the attacks occurred.

"Rana flew to Dubai and arrived on Nov 21, 2008. He remained in Dubai until Nov 24, 2008. On Nov 24, 2008, Rana traveled to China from Dubai. Then, on Nov 26, 2008 - the day the Mumbai attacks started - Rana boarded a plane to return to America," the FBI said.

The FBI charged that Rana had conceded about his Dubai meetings in his post-arrest statements. Further, Rana acknowledged that he had met with "Pasha" in Dubai and that "Pasha" even stayed with him.

"Rana, however, falsely denied being told by "Pasha" specifically that the Mumbai attacks were about to happen. Instead, Rana claimed that "Pasha" only told him that 'they were saying that you know, we are fighting in Kashmir, and we are doing all this thing, and there things which we are planning and all that'," the FBI affidavit said.



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