‘Major Iqbal’ kept in touch with Rana on 26/11 plot progress: FBI

Copy of Mumnbai terror attack case accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana’s passport. File photo  


“Major Iqbal”, believed to be an Inter-Services Intelligence officer, had asked Pakistan-born Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana about the progress made on the Mumbai terror plot, the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified before a court in Chicago, in another pointer to the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agency in the attacks.

“Major Iqbal” had telephonic talk with Rana and another co-accused in the Mumbai attacks David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American, and exchanged emails with them, five FBI agents testified during Rana’s trial in the court hearing the 26/11 case.

In an email of July 7, 2008, “Major Iqbal” asked Rana if there was any “progress made on the project”. Prosecutors said he was seeking an update on the preparations for the 26/11 attacks.

Defence attorneys, however, argued that any discussion “Major Iqbal” had with Rana was focussed on their plans to work as partners in Rana’s immigration business.

In his deposition, Headley, an LeT operative, had said that “Major Iqbal” had given money to Rana to open a business office in Mumbai which was used as a cover to zero in on targets for the attacks.

An email sent from one Chaudhery Khan, another name for “Major Iqbal”, from in which he gave his mobile number for future contacts, was shown in the court by prosecutor Sarah Streicker.

Another email from in which Rana booked Headley’s flight on December 8, 2008, from New York to Chicago with a stop at Atlanta, was also placed before the court.

According to the FBI, Rana, who has been slapped with charges of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Mumbai attacks, knowingly helped Headley carry out surveillance of potential bombing targets.

Besides Mumbai, this included surveillance of the German Bakery in Pune as also Chabad Houses in Delhi, Pushkar and Pune.

Headley had said that he had made a video of the German Bakery, which was bombed on February 13, 2010 killing 17 people and injuring 60 others. The Bakery is located near the Chabad House and Osho Ashram in Pune.

The verdict in the trial of Rana is likely to come as early as on June 8 as the Chicago businessman is unlikely to testify at his own trial.

Attorney Patrick Blegen said Rana’s defence team was still making a final decision, but it was unlikely that Rana would depose.

The case has proceeded quickly with Headley wrapping up his testimony after five days of questioning by prosecution and defence lawyers in the trial of Rana, his childhood friend and a 26/11 co-accused, in a Chicago court.

Prosecutors called seven witnesses on Wednesday, including the five FBI agents who verified email and phone communication between Rana, Headley and “Major Iqbal”.

U.S. District Court Judge Harry D. Leinenweber said the case has proceeded quickly partly because both the government and defence had no problems with the stipulation.

A stipulation is an agreement between opposing parties prior to a pending hearing or trial when both parties agree on certain aspects on which they do not argue.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Monday. “We’re fairly close to the end of the case,” Mr. Leinenweber said.

“We’re going to suspend now until Monday, 09:30 am,” he added.

On Monday, the last of the witnesses will be presented.

The trial will resume with testimonies from Rana’s witnesses among others.

Final arguments will be on Tuesday and deliberations are scheduled on the same day.

The jury will deliberate after weighing the pros and cons and given information and arguments to evaluate.

The jury could come up with a verdict whether Rana is guilty or not as early as Wednesday.

At the start of the trial, Mr. Leinenweber had stated that it would tentatively end by June 15.

Rana was indicted by a federal grand jury under 12 counts on February 15 last year for planning out the attacks, providing material support to LeT to carry out the bombings and guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai in the process.

Rana, on the other hand, said that he was duped by Headley, who has pleaded guilty to scouting sites in Mumbai.

Headley has pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges relating to Mumbai attacks and other plots since his arrest in 2009.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2018 5:41:08 AM |