I-Team

Terror suspect Tahawwur Rana in Chicago court

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Chicago man accused of committing terrorist crimes 8,000 miles away was in federal court Wednesday in Chicago.

In this Intelligence Report: The government is gearing up for the most significant terrorism trial ever in Chicago.

Wednesday's court appearance by Tahawwur Rana was intended to smooth some legal wrinkles in a contentious and complicated case. This trial has far-reaching implications, not only in the U.S. war on terror, but also in relations between the United States, Pakistan and India-- and between those two nations themselves, a relationship already frayed and on edge.

"He has maintained his innocence since the day he was arrested and continues to do so," said Patrick Blegen, Rana's attorney.

Blegen says that Rana was duped by a boyhood friend and had no clue he was getting involved in a terrorist plot.

In court Wednesday, as he usually is, Rana was well-groomed and well-mannered. Judge Harry Leineweber was to decide whether to make public the prosecutor's "Santiago filing" that details evidence in their case against Rana. But, as of late Wednesday afternoon, that filing was still under seal.

"I won't know until I see a good portion of the government's case whether my client will testify," Blegen said.

Rana's boyhood friend is David Coleman Headley, aka "Daood Gilani," a Chicago man who has pleaded guilty to helping plot the attack by Pakistani terrorists on the Indian capital of Mumbai in November 2008.

Headley has testified to a federal grand jury in Chicago that he told Rana of the terror plot and how he wanted Rana's immigration aid business to provide him with a cover story by posing as a representative of Rana's Chicago office.

Headley will testify that with Rana's help he made five separate trips to Mumbai and took photographs and videos to help a team of heavily armed terrorists carry out assaults on hotels, public buildings and a Jewish center.

There are numerous other defendants in the case -- all international fugitives -- including several men with close connections to Pakistan's military and its official spy agency, the ISI.

Tonight at 10 p.m. in our I-Team Report: Elements of the very same spy organization protected Osama bin Laden for years at his Pakistan compound, and we will hear from a Chicago author who worked in Pakistan and says that nation's intelligence agency knew ahead of time that a deadly terrorist attack was going to occur.

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