'Pak military, intelligence hand in glove with Qaeda, LeT'

"Headley testified that the Mumbai plot was a joint operation in which he was directed by Major Iqbal of the ISI and the Lashkar handler named Mir. The defence established that Rana communicated with Major Iqbal, but not any Lashkar masterminds," wrote investigative journalist, Sebastian Rotella, on ProPublica.Com.

The court today acquitted Rana on charges of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks but held him guilty of supporting Pakistan-based terror group LeT and planning a strike in Denmark that will get him a maximum of 30 years in jail.

"The verdict suggested a common-sense analysis by the jury," Rotella said. During his five days of testimony, the confessed American terrorist and Pakistani spy David Coleman Headley delivered explosive revelations about how officers in Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) funded, supported and directed the 2008 Mumbai attacks along with the Lashkar-i-Taiba militant group.

"The case also showed how a growing number of serving and former Pakistani military officers have put their lethal talents at the service of Lashkar, al Qaeda and other groups. It revealed the impunity with which ISI officers and terrorists alike operate in Pakistan even when they target Americans and other Westerners," the report said.

"Rana's lawyers argued that Headley, Rana's boyhood friend, was a skilled manipulator who convinced Rana that he was doing intelligence for the ISI against India, Pakistan's arch-enemy, and kept him in the dark about the Mumbai plot," the story said.

"The acquittal on the charge of supporting the Mumbai plot indicates that the jury accepted that argument. But they apparently rejected the idea that Rana remained a dupe once the carnage in India had happened," it said.

"Headley soon enlisted Rana to assist his reconnaissance on a newspaper in Denmark that has become an internationally known target of terrorists after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005. Because Rana was a devout Muslim, it seems hard to believe he did not suspect anything at that point," the report said. ProPublica said the jury did not get the whole story.

"Headley had already pleaded guilty to doing reconnaissance in Mumbai and for a plot in Denmark. The official focus of the trial was the narrower issue of charges of material support of terrorism against Rana, who owns an immigration consulting firm in Chicago," it said.

"He was accused of supporting Headley's reconnaissance for the Mumbai and Denmark attacks and of overall support for Lashkar. Prosecutors charged that Rana let Headley open an office of the firm in Mumbai and use the business as cover for his surveillance in India and Denmark," Rotella said.

Noting that Rana's conviction is a small victory, ProPublica said the US has been pressing Pakistan for more than a year to arrest Major Iqbal as well as Mir and a half-a-dozen other Lashkar chiefs who have been implicated as masterminds.

"Despite abundant evidence and the US federal indictment, the Pakistani government has not pursued those fugitives. They are not in hiding and continue to be involved in terrorist plotting, US investigators say," it said.

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