Mumbai Terror Trial to Take Place in Chicago on May 16
By Ellen Cannon
One of the most widely anticipated terrorist trials will soon begin in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Tahawwur Rana, a 49 year old Pakistani-Canadian resident is charged with providing material support for the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India carried out by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in November 2008. The attack resulted in the deaths of 164 people including 6 Americans. Rana is also charged with providing cover for admitted terrorist David Headley who pleaded guilty for his role in Mumbai on March 18, 2010; choosing the multiple bombing locations of the Mumbai attack; and planning to blow up a Danish newspaper in 2005 that published cartoons considered blasphemous. Tahawwar Rana, a resident of Chicago for more than twelve years, has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber approved a request by prosecutors for several extra days to hand over a document to the defense that outlines evidence. Judge Leinenweber noted that some of the materials are classified and may have to be presented behind closed doors. (“Mumbai terror suspect Rana’s trial on May 16,”www.asianage.com/print/67107)
The documents which were published by the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reveal that Rana will claim “that he provided material support to the terrorists at the behest of the Pakistan Government and its spy agency ISI and not the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba.” According to the documents, Rena’s defense will contend that the “ISI has authority to act in India to protect Pakistan’s national interests.” (“26/11 accused Rana implicates Pak govt.ISI,”www.zeenews.com/print.aspx?aid+699343)
The argument put forth by the defense is known as “Public Authority Defense”. Under this argument a defendant tries to claim that they acted under the public authority- whether actual or proven-of the Pakistani government and the ISI. If this were proven, Rana would attempt to argue that he is immune from criminal prosecution in US courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) when he engaged in activities such as allowing Headley to open a First World Immigration Office in Mumbai. Judge Harry Leinenweber rejected this argument stating that Mr. Rana “acted not in Pakistan or India, but in the United States.” Furthermore, the court cited “no authority holding that a foreign government official can sanction an individual living and acting in the United States to violate federal law.”(www.zeenews.com/print.aspx?aid+699343)
The case starts on May 16, 2011 and is expected to last at least one month. The process of seating jurors for the trial has begun.