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'FBI affidavit omitted Headley's Rana testimony'

By Himani Kumar
July 26, 2011 02:45 IST
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Mumbai attacks accused David Headley had repeatedly told his Federal Bureau of Investigation interrogators that his friend and co-accused Tahawwur Rana was unaware of his terror activities and had not provided any support to him knowingly, details that were omitted from an affidavit filed before a court, recently unsealed documents reveal.

According to the documents, FBI had presented a number of evidences in support of its applications to search properties of Rana but there was discrepancy in the evidence presented and in Headley's testimony.

In the search warrant affidavit, Special Agent Lorenzo Benedict of the FBI asserted there was probable cause to believe that Rana conspired to provide material support to "a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder, kidnapping, and maiming outside the US, including attacks in Mumbai, Copenhagen, and elsewhere..."

The document cited Headley using Rana's immigration service business as a cover to perform surveillance in Mumbai, besides a conversation between Headley and Rana, reflecting that Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (aka 'Pasha') told Rana during a 2008 meeting in Dubai, about the impending attack in India.

While the search warrant affidavit did disclose that Headley had made multiple incriminating statements about his own conduct and of others, it omits the fact that during his two-week long videotaped interrogation from October 3, 2009 to October 17, 2009, Headley repeatedly told investigators that Rana was unaware of his terrorist activities and had not knowingly provided any support to his activities.

The documents further added that with respect to the Mumbai attacks, the affidavit specifically omits Headley's statements that he used his position as a childhood friend to convince Rana to open businesses in Mumbai and Pakistan, to let Headley run them, and that Rana did this because he trusted Headley.

The documents further added that Rana was unaware of

Pasha's role in terrorist activity and that the connection between Rana and Pasha was solely business related.

Rana was surprised but not upset about the Mumbai attacks and he did not think Headley had done it, according to the Pakistani American's recorded testimony.

With regards to the planned attacks against Jyllands- Posten too, the affidavit omitted some of Headley's statements during interrogation.

These included the stated fact that Rana intended to set up a legitimate immigration business in Copenhagen and while Headley discussed it with him, he did not tell the Pakistani Canadian the terror plans.

Rana also responded to an email to Headley from the Jyllands-Posten because Headley asked him to do so, supporting a subterfuge by posing as Headley.

Headley had also told FBI that the reason Rana paid portions of his flight expenses associated with the reconnaissance of the newspaper office, was because he (Headley) had loaned Rana money.

The documents further add that Headley's e-mail to a co-conspirator, wherein he states that he is working in a restaurant owned by Rana and he is traveling to Germany on Rana's expense was false.

During the entire course of the interview, Headley did not once implicate Rana in any criminal behaviour, despite ample questioning to that effect.

While providing all the crucial evidence in its search warrant affidavit, seeking to obtain permission to search Rana's home and businesses, none of Headley's accounts on Rana were provided to the magistrate judge who issued the warrants, the documents state.

Rana was convicted on June 9 on two counts of supporting terrorism in Denmark and supporting Lashkar-e-Tayiba and faces upto 30 years in prison though his sentencing date has not yet been set.

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