Chicago: Pakistani American David Coleman Headley told a Chicago court on Monday that Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) provided support to terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

“They coordinated with each other” Headley, who has pleaded guilty of taking part in planning the terror attack to escape the death penalty, said testifying as the prosecution's star witness in the trial of his one time friend, Pakistan-born Canadian Tahawwur Rana.

“ISI provided assistance to Lashkar' through military and financial assistance and moral support,” he said. The revelation is considered significant given outstanding questions of the ISI's possible role in helping protect Osama bin Laden as he hid in Pakistan before he was killed by US forces on May 2.

Federal prosecutors presented Headley after their opening statement.

Headley, son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, who changed his given name of Daood Gilani in 2006 to scout targets for the attack without arousing suspicion.

“After the attacks, Rana told Headley that Indians deserved it” said Assistant US Attorney Sarah Streicker in her opening statement.
She repeatedly referred to Rana and Headley as close friends, charging that Rana allowed Headley to pretend that he was an agent of Rana's immigration business as cover for travelling on scouting missions to India.

Rana had a role in the Mumbai plot, prosecutors said, even as he sat in Chicago during the plotting.

“The defendant is not charged with killing anyone. He's not charged with picking up a gun or throwing a grenade,” Streicker said.
Referring to the sophistication of the Mumbai plot, she added, “Not every player carries a weapon.”

50-years-old Rana has pleaded not guilty. Rana's lawyer, Charles Swift, told jurors that Headley made a fool out of Rana. Headley, he said, “had been manipulating people for years.”

Headley, a convicted heroin dealer, warned Rana not to go to India around the time of the 2008 attacks but that doesn't mean Rana was privy to the deadly plan, Swift said.

Headley had been talking about his allegiance to the LeT for years but no one, including the authorities, took him seriously, Swift said.

When Headley was caught in 2009, he knew he needed a 'homerun or touchdown' so he falsely told authorities of Rana's involvement, Swift said.

 (Agencies)