Pakistani-Canadian LeT operative Tahawwur Rana, set to be arraigned along with his accomplice David Headley next week over the Mumbai attacks, today made a desperate bid to seek bail, pleading before a court here that he would not escape from the U.S. as it would only force him to live as a fugitive.
Rana and Headley, both 49, who were indicted on January 14 by a federal grand jury on charges of being involved in the Mumbai attacks, were to be arraigned today, but it has now been rescheduled for next week.
The arraignment of Rana will take place on January 25 while Pakistani-American Headley’s arraignment has been set for January 27 before Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in the Northern District of Illinois court, US Attorney’s Office spokesman Randall Samborn said.
Rana, meanwhile, told the US District court that his escape from the U.S. would only force him to live as an “international fugitive” and his knowledge of immigration business would not help him run from a “federal indictment”, amid prosecutors’ opposition to his bail.
Charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in India, Rana filed in the court his 7-page reply to the government’s response to the motion made by him last month seeking revocation of his detention order.
Federal prosecutors, who have been opposing his bail plea, have said Rana’s incentive to flee has been “heightened” by the maximum term of life imprisonment he now faces if convicted.
Through his lawyer Patrick Blegen, Rana replied that any increased incentive for him to flee from a term of life as opposed to a term of 30 years is negligible.
“Defendant is 49 years old and a sentence of 30 years is tantamount to life imprisonment. Moreover, defendant would be forced to abandon his family, forfeit the property of his friends and family and live the rest of his life as an international fugitive.
“This option is surely no more attractive given the increase in his maximum sentence from a term of 30 years imprisonment to a term of life,” Blegen said in the reply.
Rana’s family has said it would post a million dollar bond to secure his release.
On January 7, Rana had claimed in his bail plea that he was a Pakistani army deserter and would not be able flee home due to fears of reprisal, but failed to get a reprieve. He had appeared before District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who refused to hear the plea after prosecutors said they expected the indictment by January 14, which could send the case to a different judge.
Later, the 12-count indictment contained the identical charges that were filed against Headley on December 7 while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terror plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In his reply filed today, Rana said the government chooses to “invoke al-Qaeda” as well as make the suggestion, without evidentiary support, that he would be able to flee with the support of international terrorists.