Jim Kouri
Chicago trial: Pakistani agents implicated in Mumbai terror attacks
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By Jim Kouri
May 27, 2011

"These Pakistani intelligence agents were sympathetic to the cause of the radical Islamists and provided military and moral support to the group, Headley stated. He also stated that a Pakistani intelligence agent paid him $25,000 for the reconnaissance operation and that he was trained by LeT terrorists."

The man who pleaded guilty of conducting reconnaissance of possible locations for the 2008 Mumbai, India, terrorist attacks testified in a Chicago courtroom that members of Pakistan's intelligence service have links to the terrorist organization that perpetrated the attacks and to other radical Islamic groups.

David Headley, who already pleaded guilty to photographing and videotaping possible terror targets, testfied against Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman also accused of aiding and abetting the terrorists who carried out the deadly attacks.

Rana is accused of providing Headley with a "cover story" to recon attack site, but Rana pleaded not guilty and his legal counsel said the businessman was tricked by Headley.

The ten terrorists killed more than 150 people and wounded hundreds more in November 2008 when they stormed hotels, a train station, cafes, and a Jewish center. Their weapons including automatic firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

During the opening session of Rana's trial on Monday, Headley stated in court that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) coordinated the Mumbai plot with one another.

These Pakistani intelligence agents were sympathetic to the cause of the radical Islamists and provided military and moral support to the group, Headley stated. He also stated that a Pakistani intelligence agent paid him $25,000 for the reconnaissance operation and that he was trained by LeT terrorists.

Pakistani security officials have repeatedly claimed that Headley is an unreliable witness and U.S. security analysts expect the government to "categorically deny alleged links" between terrorists and the Pakistani secret intelligence service, although U.S. intelligence reports independent of Headley's testimony strongly suggest ties between the ISI and the Taliban.

Rana's lawyers say he was tricked by Headley, a longtime friend from their days at a Pakistani military school. Rana was arrested in 2009, and if convicted, he faces a life sentence.

Headley's testimony revealed the inner workings of LeT and its alleged links to the ISI. He had free access to the group's leader, Hafiz Sayeed, who has been charged by India as the mastermind of the attacks.

Headley has also claimed that two other smaller terrorist organizations — Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Mohammed — worked closely with some ISI intelligence officers. Headley identified several men who he stated were intelligence officers and collaborators with LeT,

He also surprised the court when he testified that the Mumbai attacks had been planned in 2005, about three years before the actual terror operation.

"[Mr. Rani] knew all too well that when Headley travels to a foreign country, people may die," Assistant US Attorney Sarah Streicker, the lead prosecutor, told the jury.

"[He] didn't carry a gun or throw a grenade. In a complicated and sophisticated plot, not every player carries a weapon. People like the defendant who provide support are just as critical to the success," she said.

In addition, prosecutors have asserted that Headley and Mr Rana plotted an attack, which was never carried out, on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, in revenge for its printing of cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Muhammad.

Also charged with planning the Mumbai attack are four Pakistanis, including one said by prosecutors to be a Pakistani intelligence officer, but they are all still at-large.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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