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Rana's trial losing steam. Will he be acquitted?

Last updated on: June 2, 2011 12:54 IST

Rana's trial losing steam. Will he be acquitted?

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The verdict in the trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, co-accused in the Mumbai terror attacks with David Coleman Headley, is likely to come in earlier than expected as the Chicago businessman is unlikely to testify at his own trial. Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen said his client's defence team was still making a final decision, but that it was unlikely Rana would take the stand.

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

Prosecutors called seven witnesses on Wednesday, including five Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who verified email and phone communication between Rana, Headley, and "Major Iqbal," believed to be an Inter-Services Intelligence officer. Rana was communicating through e-mails with Major Iqbal of ISI (low-level officer), it was noted in court.

An email sent from a Chaudhery Khan, another name for Major Iqbal from chaudherykhan@yahoo.com, in which he gave his mobile number for future contacts was shown in court by prosecutor Sarah Streicker. Another e-mail from tahawwur@yahoo.com in which Rana booked Headley's flight on December 8, 2008, from New York to Chicago with a stop at Atlanta.

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Image: Tahawwur Hussain Rana, co-accused in the Mumbai terror attacks

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Decision on Rana likely by Wednesday

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United States District Court Judge Harry D Leinenweber said the case 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 stipulate to certain facts and therefore do not argue those facts.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Monday. "We're fairly close to the end of the case," Leinenweber said. "We're going to suspend now until Monday, 9:30 hours," 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 for on the same day.

The jury will deliberate after weighing in 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.

Image: Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center where Headley and Rana are being held
Photographs: John Gress/Reuters
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'Rana let Headley use his business as cover'

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At the start of the trial, Leinenweber had stated that the trial 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 Lahkar-e-Tayiba to carry out the bombings, and guiding Headley in scouting targets in Mumbai in the process.

Rana, a Pakistani Canadian, on the other hand, said that he was duped by Headley, who has pleaded guilty to scouting sites in Mumbai. In an e-mail, shown in the court, Rana wrote to a person called Syed Nomar that he got business cards printed for himself and Headley showing him as an immigration consultant of First World Immigration.

Streicker also pulled up Rana's wife Samraz's phone records in which the latter had received calls from a Dave, nickname for Headley, and Balaji another name for Major Iqbal displaying the same cell number above.  FBI special agent David Maze on Wednesday testified that the phone records had been verified.


Image: ahawwur Hussain Rana's office, which says Immigrant Law Center in Chicago
Photographs: Reuters
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'No evidence of Headley scouting Danish newspaper office'

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Another email from Rana from immigration@ameritech.net addresed to an employee of Jyllands Posten, Lissobette Bus Anderson, in which Headley asked her details about advertising for First World Immigration and its future clients.

The e-mail had Rana's IP address that matched with another e-mail showing his business accounts and also through the Yahoo account management tool that shows Rana's birthday and matches with the IP address of Pan American Physical Services, a company whose CEO was Rana. However, there were no businesses phone calls or faxes made to Denmark, Sweden or Norway. There was no setting up of an office for First World Immigration Services in Cophenhagen and Headley was just scouting the Jyllands Posten office, records mentioned.

Another e-mail asking for the progress on a project was sent from immigration@ameritech.net to ranger1david@yahoo.com (Headley's e-mail). Further, an e-mail liaqatwing11@gmail.com was also shown which Rana created on October 8, 20009 for Headley. A transcript of a call in which Rana spoke to Pasha (Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed) -- a trusted friend of Headley and Rana and a retired major from the Pakistani Army -- shows they discussed visas. Pasha had connected Headley to the Al qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri.


Image: Office of Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in Copenhagen
Photographs: Reuters
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