Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rana guilty of aiding LeT, but did not participate in 26/11

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. jury Thursday found Pakistani born in Chicago Business Tahawwur Rana guilty to providing support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the assault of 2008 on Mumbai, but not guilty of involvement in the attack.

In a mixed verdict, the jury also found Rana, 50, a former Pakistan Army medic with the Canadian citizen, guilty of conspiring to attack a Danish newspaper, a plot hatched by the militant group, but never carried out .

At trial, held in U.S. federal court in Chicago, the key witness - Rana childhood friend, David Headley - involved Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI in the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.

Headley admitted exploration objectives of the Mumbai bombers sent by the LeT, the militant group behind both plots and designated by the U.S. State Departmentas a terrorist organization.

The judge gave both parties 60 days to file post-trial motions and do not set a sentencing date. Rana faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for each of the two counts.

U.S. Justice Department officials said the case was not over.

"I hope others are not charged ... that other people brought to justice, both here and abroad," said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney in Chicago who has led the prosecution of several Islamic militants.

Fitzgerald did not say what measures might be taken to locate the six Pakistanis indicted in the U.S., including the primary contact with the ISI Headley, known only as the greatest Iqbal. No one is arrested.

The case revealed contacts between the ISI and Islamic militants who are fighting India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It comes on the heels of the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. special forces that worsened already tense relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Headley stated that other ISI officials are useful to him and trained him in spycraft, but he suspected ISI "top" did not know the plot of Mumbai.

Rana, 50, was accused of backing plots to attack Mumbai and Denmark, and support to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

He was convicted of supporting Lashkar Danish plot, but the jury found no support for Lashkar given rise to death, avoid the penalty of life imprisonment.

"BUY A PLANE TICKET"

"We believe they were wrong," said Rana's lawyer, Patrick Blegen, of the guilty verdicts, adding that he plans to appeal.

"He faces 30 years to basically buy a ticket," said defense attorney Charles Swift, referring to the organization of a frog Headley tickets to Denmark to perform reconnaissance work in the newspaper Jyllands- Posten. The attack was meant to avenge published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that angered many Muslims.

"Given the backgrounds of people that the threat was very real," Fitzgerald said, citing the plan to raid the newspaper's offices in Copenhagen and the beheading of his staff.

Headley, who pleaded guilty, gave valuable information to U.S. authorities in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and extradition to India, said Fitzgerald. Prosecutors said he identified three dozen other potential targets, mostly in India.

Sat Rana flashing in court as U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber read the verdict. Some members of the Rana family in court bowed head. He has a wife and three children.

"He's in shock," Swift said of his client.

Over five days of testimony, Headley, 50-year-old former U.S. drug informant, he recalled the months he spent in exploration objectives of the Mumbai bombers and Iqbal Majeure. He claimed that keeps you informed all along Rana, while with the cover story that worked for immigration business Rana.

Head said he was told by Major Iqbal and Lashkar contacts to retreat the fabric due to Danish exerted intense investigation following the attack in Mumbai.

But Headley, an American with a Pakistani father, has the plan to Al Qaeda militants on Pakistani Kashmir Ilyas, who met through a former Pakistani army officer, who also is charged in both plots.

In another sign of strained relations between the nominal allies, the Pakistan authorities and the United States can not agree whether Kashmir was killed in a recent U.S. strike drones.
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