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Mumbai attack
Worked at behest of Pak govt, ISI: Rana
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

Trial begins on May 16

  • Rana tries to invoke "Public Authority Defence" wherein a defendant tries to find shelter under the arguments that his acts were done at the behest of a government.
  • Rana also relies on the grand jury testimony of the co-accused David Headley, who claimed involvement of one Major Iqbal in funding the terror attacks.
  • The court rejected Rana’s arguments, saying his defence is objectively unreasonable

David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, accused in the 2008 Mumbai massacre plot, are expected to tell a Chicago court that they thought they were working for Lashkar-e-Toiba as well as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian, is to go on trial on May 16.

According to recent filings, first reported by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Rana argues he is a Pakistani patriot who was led to believe the ISI wanted his help. He sought the equivalent of diplomatic immunity for this reason. On April 1, Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that defence to be “objectively unreasonable”.

“Defendant's proposed defence is that his alleged illegal acts of providing material support to terrorists”, at least those related to the Mumbai attacks “were done at the behest of the Pakistani government and the ISI, not the Lashkar terrorist organisation,” reads the decision. He argues that he is entitled to “a public-authority defence because he acted under the authority ‘whether actual or apparent' of the Pakistani government and the ISI".

Headley turned FBI informer in a bid to escape the death penalty. He is expected to reveal details of the Mumbai massacre surveillance scheme when he gives evidence against Rana. He is also expected to reveal how he anglicised his name, videotaped targets in Mumbai, cultivated ties with LeT and briefed his handlers in Pakistan.

"I also told him (Rana) ? how I had been asked to perform espionage work for ISI," Headley, a Pakistani-American, testified to the grand jury.

Disclosing how he entered India under a 'false flag' to scout out targets, Headley told the grand jury that "I told (Mr. Rana) about my assignment to conduct surveillance in Mumbai. ? I explained to him that the immigration office would provide a cover story for why I was in Mumbai."

Rana has been indicted on three counts of providing material support to terrorism or a terrorist organisation, including one count of providing material support in preparation for and in carrying out the Mumbai attacks.

Around June 2006, Headley allegedly traveled to Chicago, advised Rana of his assignment to scout potential targets in India, and obtained approval from Rana, who owned First World Immigration Services in Chicago and elsewhere, to open a First World office in Mumbai as cover for his activities, according to the Justice Department.

Rana allegedly directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents supporting Headley's cover story of opening a First World office in Mumbai, and advised Headley how to obtain a visa for travel to India. Headley misrepresented his birth name, his father's true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application, according to the indictment.





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