Key Mumbai terror attacks trial opens in Chicago

Published: May 24, 2011
This courtroom drawing shows Tahawwur Hussain Rana and Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan. IMAGE: AFP

This courtroom drawing shows Tahawwur Hussain Rana and Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan. IMAGE: AFP


US prosecutors on Monday outlined an elaborate plot that allegedly preceded the 2008 attack on Mumbai, saying a Chicago businessman helped make it possible for militants to scout their targets.

“He (Tahawwur Rana) not only knew of the attacks, he approved of them, and agreed with them” prosecutor Sarah Streicker said in her opening statement to the jury in US District Court in Chicago as the trial began.

A number of Pakistanis accused of helping to orchestrate the attack, described as co-conspirators, knew about Rana and were “appreciative of his assistance,” Streicker said.

Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian citizen, is accused of using his immigration services firm to provide a cover story for David Headley, an American who has admitted to scouting targets in Mumbai for the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Although Rana did not carry a gun nor throw a grenade, he played a vital role in the run-up to Mumbai with resources and other support, including using his business as a conduit for communications with militants, Streicker said.

At one point after the 2008 attack, Streicker said Rana told Headley “The Indians deserved it.”

Headley, tipped as the key witness, has pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and to keep from being extradited.

Streicker said Headley will explain how he funnelled his surveillance to Pakistani militants who organized the attack that killed more than 160 people in the Indian commercial capital, including six Americans.

Headley has told investigators the militants’ “handlers” were members of Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

But Streicker described the role of only one ISI officer, “Major Iqbal,” who she said was intimately involved in the attack that she referred to as an “international nightmare.”

She also cited the role of Abdur Rehman, another figure referred in court papers as a retired military officer.

Prosecutors say Rana served as a conduit for messages between Headley and “Major Iqbal.”

Iqbal and Rehman are among six Pakistanis who have been indicted. None of them is in custody.

Rana, who faces the possibility of life in prison, and Headley were also charged with participating in a second plot with Pakistani militants. That plot, never carried out, allegedly targeted a Danish newspaper.

Rana’s lawyers have said they will show Headley tricked Rana into thinking they were working with Pakistan’s government and were not bent on violence.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Babloo
    May 24, 2011 - 1:46AM

    Congratulations to Tribune for covering the trial.
    Hopefully they will cover it in detail and let the truth come out.Recommend

  • Khalid Ahmed
    May 24, 2011 - 2:15AM

    A huge victory for India.

    Pakistan has got a lot of face saving to do now. I wouldn’t be surprised if economic sanctions will be imposed on Pakistan just like Iran.Recommend

  • AB
    May 24, 2011 - 2:19AM

    This is nothing new. Every one knows who is involved!Recommend

  • Ari
    May 24, 2011 - 2:20AM

    More embarassment! Recommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed
    May 24, 2011 - 2:26AM

    Headley, tipped as the key witness, has pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and to keep from being extradited.Recommend

  • rifaye(India)
    May 24, 2011 - 2:41AM

    i am sure to see more comments, saying another conspiracy theory…. well, if the rest of the world understand the pain of india, i am satisfied..

    tomorrow rehman malik will say, pakistan is the victim of terrorism, and will do everything to defeat terrorist. and the next day, his holiness hafeez sayeed, speak in the middle of karachi, asking its comrade to wage nuclear war against india…and my foolish goverment keep sending dossier after dossier, which pakistan mock as literature…

    so this revealation will bring some justice to us…Recommend

  • mahmood
    May 24, 2011 - 2:42AM

    Probably as good a place to adjudicate this issue as any – the USA doesn’t have a bone in the dispute between India and Pakistan – the USA wants justice for the 6 American’s who were butchered during the Mumbai massacre.

    The article should mention that Headley’s original name was Daood Sayed Gilani – he changed his name in the hope that he would draw less notice in India. Gilani and Rana met while they attended a Pakistani military academy.Recommend

  • Haris
    May 24, 2011 - 3:08AM

    torture and forced confessions hmmmm another method of indian/american policy just like targeted assassinationsRecommend

  • Shock horror
    May 24, 2011 - 3:19AM

    Recommend this comment of mine to other readers if you believe that the Chicago trial of Rana has been jointly orchestrated by RAW (INDIA), MOSSAD (ISRAEL), CIA (USA), ASIS (AUSTRALIA), DGSE (FRANCE), FSB (RUSSIA), BND (GERMANY), MSS (CHINA), MI6 (UNITED KINGDOM) in order to defame ISI (PAKISTAN).Recommend

  • Vingy Ungal
    May 24, 2011 - 3:25AM

    @Dr. Ali Ahmed: Exactly my thoughts! How reliable is someones testimony in exchange for freedom and /or death penalty.
    Blame ISI and it all goes away.Recommend

  • Tikka
    May 24, 2011 - 3:29AM

    INDIANS need to note here NYtimes didnot cover this news yet. They are consulting Obama to print this or not. They printed headline that this trial will be another clue/blow for Pakistan policy. Now USA is started petting Pakis again.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    May 24, 2011 - 3:34AM

    I agree with AB, nothing new..Only ordinary Pakistanis will pay the price, responisble would be roaming in streets with their heads high. Recommend

  • the great khan
    May 24, 2011 - 3:43AM

    even the death penalty will be too lenient a punishment for these monsters.Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    May 24, 2011 - 4:03AM

    ISI’s shenanigans have now positioned the future of 180 million people in extremely serious jeopardy. This could lead to sanctions being imposed on Pakistan. Trading in nukes and partnering with the Taliban is a very dangerous game and the consequences are beginning to show. Recommend

  • fahim
    May 24, 2011 - 4:09AM

    so its confirmed now about the ISI hand in Mumbai attacks. Who are we fooling? We have started all these dirty games and now suffering international shame.Recommend

  • Roflcopter
    May 24, 2011 - 4:22AM


  • kingly
    May 24, 2011 - 4:35AM

    indian cowards… if Pak did it to india ! who is doing it to Pakistan ??? make me sick, so much for being united against terrorists…Recommend

  • Muhammad Rafi
    May 24, 2011 - 4:39AM

    It seems end game begins and powerful establishment is prey to its own policies .OBL nightmare and now Karachi attack will further weaken it. It is time to change security policy and give people their right. Otherwise atom bomb and military may survive but people will be no more.Recommend

  • delhi_se
    May 24, 2011 - 6:44AM

    @Ari: I don’t think Pakistanis need to be embarrassed for the deeds of few. Terrorists have no religion, not civilized enough to belong to society and they are not worthy citizen to any country. For any constructive / progressive relationship between Indians and Pakistanis what is needed is that common people stop being fooled by communal feeling and show courage to apprehend and punish those who commit heinous crime in name of religion. When we will be strong enough to cleanse our own mess we would grow stronger. That is when common citizens will have more power. This message is for both my Pakistani and Indian citizens. We have lot in common culturally and traditionally. Surely we can live together peacefully, prosper and thrive. Peace!!!Recommend

  • Farhaan
    May 24, 2011 - 6:57AM

    Not many Pakistanis shouting ghairat now.
    Or did I miss something?Recommend

  • Uzair Javaid
    May 24, 2011 - 7:01AM

    @ both the indians on top – atleast have some courage showing up with your own names if you aren’t really ashamed of telling us. Anyway WE as a nation would love the sanctions if any put on us. It would bring in a good government as there wouldn’t be anything left in for the corrupt stooges. And a genuine government would indeed settle scores with what and how india has been playing across Pakistan since the last 4 years.Recommend

  • Rahul Singh
    May 24, 2011 - 7:20AM

    Just another evidence of Pakistan involvement in Mumbai attack, though as usual Pakistani authorities will be in denial mode. Recommend

  • Avanti
    May 24, 2011 - 7:59AM

    Enough of this now. I am waiting for round 2 when someone is going to figure out how to fix the system before it is too late. That is, when the ordinary Pakistanis will rise and take over the country.Recommend

  • harkol
    May 24, 2011 - 9:05AM

    Hopefully the vernacular press in Pakistan will cover this trial factually. This trial exposes Pakistani administrations lies to its own people, and people will have yet another chance to take remedial action of showing their army its place, purging it off all the mad elements (starting with Mr. Kayani).

    What Pakistan needs badly is a change of ideology. A change for its Raison d’être as an Islamic state to that of a growth oriented state, concerned about its people’s economic welfare. A change from Militaristic security to social security. A foreign policy based on enlightened economic self-interest, rather than nebulous honor (‘ghairat’).

    Pakistani civilians have a choice – They can choose to become a normal nation focused on civilian welfare, follow rule of law, and have an Army that is subservient to the civilian policies. Or it can continue its blind support for the rogue army, and meet the same fate as in 1971 – Break up further into many parts after humongous loss of life.Recommend

    May 24, 2011 - 9:35AM

    The cat is ultimately out of the bag, however it remains to be seen how Pak govt and military react to this startling disclosures. Recommend

  • Eleena
    May 24, 2011 - 9:58AM

    I remember in 2008 after the Mumbai attack many Pakistanis were claiming it was Indian hindus behind the attack,RAW behind the attack.And later Kasab considered as a hero in Pakistan.In many Pakistan bloggers write happily about terror attacks in India.
    Remember terrorism is a double edged sword, what is going on in every cities of Pakistan now?As an Indian i am not happy.I always condemned the killing of innocent unarmed people everywhere in the world.
    This is not war.This is crazy.
    All the terrorists should be wiped out for peace.Recommend

  • NJ
    May 24, 2011 - 9:58AM

    Time to itrospect for every Pakistani; what ISI has done good to this country; it has just brought shame at every stage……did they knew their job…..such an evidence of direct involvement is beyond imagination from a spy agency!!! shouldn’t we throw that out of Pakistan and stop them from further bringing shame to us.Recommend

  • sumeet
    May 24, 2011 - 10:00AM

    Not much pakistani comment.i am not surprised.i am waiting for some conspiracy theory like healey is a RAW agent or US wants to take revenge from ISI by this drama to come out.Recommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak
    May 24, 2011 - 10:40AM

    Anyone can write a fable like this one.Recommend

  • May 24, 2011 - 10:43AM

    Why is it that the India is so quick to blame Pakistan for everything bad that happens to it. Well if I were India, and if it was indeed 5 Pakistanis that got on to a boat and created all that havoc, I wouldn’t be blaming Pakistan but rather my self. Every year hundreds of innocent fishermen are caught by both the countries, yet the Indian defenses failed to stop these 5. I am surprised and ashamed at the level of incompetence of the Indian authorities, and Rahul Singh, perhaps you should be too. I think Pakistan wasted all that money building up warheads, I mean all we need to do is send in another 5 people on a boat. Pakistan didn’t blame India for the terrorist strike against the poor Sri Lankan team because it was our failure that we were unable to stop it from happening, similarly the Mumbai attack was India’s failure, quit blaming it on Pakistan, we already have a lot of our own problems to deal with than to address issues of whinny Indians and their stupid lists… not to mention two people from the list were recovered from India.Recommend

  • Fareed
    May 24, 2011 - 11:07AM

    The canary in the coal mine?
    Or the woodpecker in the woods?Recommend

  • Feroz
    May 24, 2011 - 11:08AM

    This case has the potential to show the World the biggest terrorist organisation operating from Pakistani soil. That the biggest victim of its actions is the hapless Pakistani citizens who have paid in blood with 30,000 lives is both tragic and unfortunate. Yes, Pakistan is the prime victim of terrorism and sadly the main protagonist too. That the country wants to continue with its suicidal policies of 60 years that already cost it half its land and countless lives, defies logic and imagination. Please for Heavens sake help the ostrich extricate its head from the sand.Recommend

  • Aamer Khan
    May 24, 2011 - 11:09AM

    What are our incompetent authorities waiting for….they should just make it their sole priority to go after all the militant groups and show the world how capable we are as a nation. People involved in the attack should be taken to book asap…..even if they are in the ISI or whereverRecommend

  • May 24, 2011 - 11:36AM

    @Rahul Singh:
    Act of some individuals (yet to be proved indepedently) cannot put Pakistan on blame for the incident.

    Friend – all the fingers are not equal. Dont you have such people in India who are involved in subvertive activities – nexalbaaris, etc.Recommend

  • CP
    May 24, 2011 - 11:48AM

    I , as an Indian, fully well know nothing will happen out of this sham of a trial except may be used as a pressure tactic on Pakistan irrespective of the truth in its damning verdict.Recommend

  • MN
    May 24, 2011 - 7:39PM

    @ Sumeet:
    Even if a Pakistani national was involved in the act it doesn’t necessarily imply the plot was made by the Govt or official agencies of Pakistan… Terrorism plague is widely spread these days and terrorists are being held from almost every country in the world, of course India being one of them where scores of separatist movements are going on. But that doesn’t always mean the governments or official agencies of those countries are involved. Similar stance should be taken in case of Pakistan too, where govt and official agencies have suffered the most, and blaming them for these individual acts would be ludicrous.Recommend

  • MN
    May 24, 2011 - 7:43PM

    Everybody knows who is behind what is going on in Balochistan, so Indians need to be aware of that before pointing fingers at ISI. it’s only the matter of some courage that our sham rulers lack at the moment, these coward opportunists will not bring it up for their personal advantages.Recommend

  • mahmood
    May 24, 2011 - 8:28PM

    @Dr. Saleem Siddiqi ..”Dont you have such people in India who are involved in subvertive activities”

    Good point – I suspect that other countries have elements of their bureaucracies that may act on their own. The critical difference is that once those rogue elements are identified other countries root them out – in Pakistan’s case you ignore the issue which implies that those rogue elements can’t be put in a court room where they may point the fingers higher up.Recommend

    May 25, 2011 - 8:12AM

    US is going to seek the custody of an ISI officer and JuD chief for this trial from Pakistan soon.Recommend

  • loafer
    May 25, 2011 - 8:35AM

    @Dr. Saleem Siddiqi: You are right. Not all Indians think that a common Pakistani wants the blood shed. It’s the Pakistan’s establishment will which is blamed for not taking action against those individuals. Even after having strong case and hard evidence Pakistan shamelessly keeps asking for evidence and keeps dragging the trial of the culprits and lets Hafeez Saeed roam freely. It’s not just India but Intelligence agency around the world that Hafeez, certain members of ISI, LeT and JuD are complicit in this attack. But some people like you find a voice to strike back at Indians rather than questioning your government why is it supporting terrorists ? Any differences small or big could be resolved by diplomatic means, but Pakistan since ages just decided to use terrorism to drive it’s point. I am trying hard not pass any judgement here but anything I would say will just sound like a blame game to Pakistani. Wish you would have been here like me in the streets of Mumbai on that unfortunate life. And you would be thankful to India’s resistance that avoided full scale war. Truly India does not have to do anything wrong to you, you have wronged yourself enough that you see the results of it in day to day recent events. It’s wishful thinking at best that those terrorists attacking your country will stop after Pakistan stops supporting USA. All it will do is reinforce the belief that they can get anything from Pakistan in future by carrying out such act. After all that’s the Pakistan’s establishment teaching to them, do terrorism and get India to negotiate. Recommend

  • Dr S Ahmad
    May 25, 2011 - 10:25AM

    I am truly amazed at the arrogance of the Pakistani people. You wanted to blow up all the drones annihilating the terrorists. You want to send another ‘boat with 5 people’ to create havoc in India. You deny OBL was in Abbotabad. You deny what his wife and ISI and your government was saying about OBL’s presence in Pakistan. But you laud the ISI and the army. Even when the Taliban accept what they did to the Paki-naval base in Karachi, you blamed RAW and CIA. I loved how someone above blamed so many intelligence agencies for everything wrong in Pakistan. You don’t even believe in the fairness of the American judicial system. So, ultimately, who really cares about what Pakistanis say? They seem to be babbling incoherently.Recommend

  • harkol
    May 25, 2011 - 1:57PM

    @Abdur Rehaman

    Immediately after Mumbai attacks, Indian’s weren’t blaming Pakistan. If you saw any TV show, it was about how the politicians and police have failed the country. There was a huge outcry for reforms in police forces. The blaming of Pakistan happened after Kasab was caught and paraded on TV.

    You say Pakistan didn’t blame India for its internal attacks. That’s ridiculous for one reason. There aren’t any Anti-Pak terror groups in India, launching attacks on Pakistan. You can’t be a host to a terror group and continue to claim sovereignty while taking no action on them. Indians are upset with Pakistan not because they have terrorists, but because those terrorists are attacking India. How you deal with terrorists in your territory is your business, but when they attack India (or US) it seizes being Pakistan’s internal affair.

    After all you control Mosquitoes by cleaning the swamps, not by just mosquito nets.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    May 25, 2011 - 2:45PM

    @ Dr. Saleem Siddiqi
    ct of establishments and actors (proved shielding international terrorists), cannot put entire citizenry (including people like you) on blame for any incident. Bro, I fully agree with you.

    Friend – it is not question of small or big finger. It is the question of governing bodies of nations who are fingering the entire world by double talks. And finally there is hell of a difference between person involved in subversion and a mad dog. Recommend

  • May 25, 2011 - 4:22PM

    Guilt is not a guilt unless proven to be guilty. How you are passing verdict that Pakistan is responsible for all that mess which India could not control. There was heap of Security lapse in India’s rank and file that few persons enterered into Mumbai and started all the action. We never knew that Indian Armed forces and security is so fragile. This will give a way to other countries to enter into india and do whatever they want to do.

    Dear first produce all the evidence to Pakistan, which India keep hiding, and let both countries investigating authorities work together to come to consensus to pin point.

    Your view that India would have attacked Pakistan – she will never dare to do that as she knows that Pakistan is not that was 20-25 years ago but Pakistan is now an Atomic Power. Try your luck.

    Pakistan is an independent state and it is our right with whom we should stand – whether USA and or China or both. We dont object if India is hiding behind Russia.

    Each country has its own judicial system and fair decision coming from such system are always welcomed.

    @Dr S Ahmad:
    Pointing fingers without any evidence is very easy job in this world. My dear nothing was proved and your giving your opinion on assumptions only.

    Yes I am amazed how 5 people on the boat entered into Mumbai without Passport and security check – so whom to be blamed for this India or Pakistan.

    Pakistan is a large country and it cannot deploy a policeman at every street. Even though it is not yet proved that OBL was in Abbottabad or not. However, for argument sake if we assume, it is physically not possible to find a hidden person. Look india handed over years back a list of so called terrorists / wanted people hiding in Pakistan but only lately found couple of them in India. I hope you got the point I want to make.

    We don’t care whether someone care for us or not, we believe in justice and principle.

    Pakistan is subject to conspricy of few and Inshallah day is not so far when we will get rid of all these evils to see a strong Pakistan emerging from the present situation.


    Dr. Saleem Siddiqi

  • May 25, 2011 - 9:00PM

    Dr.Saleem Siddiqi,

    I doubt whether your prefix is real or bogus, but however one thing is clear that Pakistan’s problems are getting compounded by the mental attitude of people like you. The government should take great pains to liquidate all these terrorist elements and the brains behind them like you people, then only the great country like Pakistan will survive.Recommend

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