Chicago, May 23: Pakistani-American David Headley, who has pleaded guilty, may discuss allegations that Pakistan’s government knew or possibly helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, a Chicago court was told Monday.
Headley, who in a plea deal to avoid the death penalty has confessed to scouting targets for the attack, will testify during the trial of his co-accused, Pakistan born Tahawwur Rana, Assistant US Attorney Sarah Streicker said in her opening statement in the federal court here.
‘This is a case about the defendant’s support of two terror plots,’ Streicker told a jury of four men and eight women.
‘One that sadly happened, one that was stopped,’ she said, referring to the foiled plot to attack a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
Rana provided cover for his friend Headley, who took photos and video of targets in Mumbai. It was Rana who led Headley to pose as a representative for his Chicago-based immigration business, she said.
Describing Headley as a clean cut man who could have been any tourist with a camera in Mumbai, the prosecutor suggested that it was Rana who approved of the plot to attack Mumbai at the behest of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Those charged with Rana include Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, allegedly a retired Pakistani Army officer, Ilyas Kashmiri, who, the US said, commands Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, a Pakistan-based terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda, and another man identified only as ‘Major Iqbal,’ who reportedly helped plan the Mumbai assault and used Rana to relay messages to Headley.
Rana’s trial is being closely watched worldwide for testimony that might reveal suspected links between LeT and the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Rana, 50, has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys say their client was simply duped by his longtime friend Headley, whom he first met at Pakistan’s top military boarding school.
Rana claims he did not know about the plot for the Mumbai attack that killed more than 160 people including six Americans.