'Rana knew about 26/11 plot as he was part of inner circle'
"That the city of Mumbai was under siege was not something that came like a bolt out of the blue to Rana. He knew about it. He knew about it ahead of time. He knew about it from David Headley, and he knew about it because Pasha had tipped him off in Dubai," Assistant US Attorney Victoria Peters told jurors during closing arguments in Rana's trial before the Chicago court.
In summer of 2008, Rana was told by his childhood friend Headley, who has confessed to his involvement in the Mumbai strikes, details about the attack plan that was going to occur a few months in the future, Peters said. "He knew that Lashkar fighters are finalising their plans to take over the city of Mumbai. He knew of Headley's activities in Mumbai, the things that he's been doing while using the cover that he has provided, he knows that Headley's activities are leading to something very, very serious and that it is on the near horizon," she said, adding that is why Rana is so security-conscious.
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Image: Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana
'Headley told Pasha to tell Rana not to stop in Mumbai on his way to US'
When the attacks in Mumbai began, Rana was not surprised, she argued. "He knew they were coming. He knew from Headley, but he also knew from Pasha. Headley had asked Pasha (also known as Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed) to tell Rana not to stop in Mumbai on Rana's way back to the United States. In Dubai, Pasha did just that. He gave Rana that warning. You know from Rana's own words that he knew that the attack in Mumbai was going to happen before it started," she said.
Under the US laws, the government cannot appeal against the verdict, even though if it disagrees with the verdict of the jury. The US government had expressed disappointment at the verdict. Peters presented before the court transcripts of a conversation between Rana and Headley in this regard.
Headley: "Did Pasha not say that"? Rana: "Yes." Headley: "When he mentioned that." Rana: "What?" Headley: "Pasha had mentioned that in Dubai that this is how ..." And Rana says, "That he said to me as well." The US attorney said Pasha gave Rana the warning.
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Image: Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley
'Pasha knew Rana was Headley's trusted friend'
"Members of the jury, this exchange between Rana and Headley, this exchange speaks volumes. What does it tell you about Rana that Pasha gave him this warning that the attacks were imminent? "What it tells you is that Pasha knows that Rana is part of the inner circle. Pasha can trust Rana. Pasha knows that Rana knows. What if Rana weren't part of this inner circle?
What if Rana had absolutely no idea that there was going to be an attack in Mumbai?" she said. Peters continued: "Think about that. Wouldn't you expect Rana, if he didn't know that this attack was imminent, wouldn't you expect him after the attack happens and the city of Mumbai is basically held siege by these armed men for three days, wouldn't you expect him to go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the police or somebody and say, 'Guys, there's this guy I met in Dubai, Pasha, he told me something really strange before these attacks took place, he told me, don't go to Mumbai.'"
"If Rana wasn't playing on the same team, why would Pasha have told him that? Pasha trusts Rana. He knows that Rana is Headley's trusted friend. So there's no risk on Pasha's part. There's no risk for him to give this warning," she said.
Image: A burning Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai during the 26/11 terror strikes
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com