Headley may testify against Mumbai masterminds: US prosecutor

June 14th, 2011 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 14 (IANS) Justifying the plea deal with confessed Pakistani American terrorist David Coleman Headley, the chief prosecutor in the just-ended Mumbai terrorism trial has said he would be a key witness in any future trials.

Headley will testify in any future prosecutions of fugitive masterminds such as Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Sajid Mir, who is charged with a lead role in the Mumbai plot, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told the investigative ProPublica news group. (There are, however, reports that Kashmiri was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month.)

The information that Headley provided about the inner workings of terrorist groups and the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services intelligence (ISI) was unprecedented in its scope and detail, Fitzgerald was quoted as saying.

Headley’s Pakistani military school friend Pakistani Canadian Tahawwur Rana was convicted after a trial in Chicago that revealed unprecedented details about the alliance between Pakistani militant groups and Pakistan’s intelligence service, ProPublica noted.

Fitzgerald, it said, declined to discuss details of the Mumbai terror case such as the politically sensitive decision to indict a suspected ISI officer who served as Headley’s handler and is known only as Major Iqbal.

“In addition to Rana, what we got from Headley was a lot of intelligence,” Fitzgerald said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we would have been derelict in our duty if we didn’t go after a deal with someone who had sat down with Kashmiri, with Sajid Mir, with Major Iqbal, someone who knew so much about these groups and these plots. He gave us 34 more targets in India. It was a no-brainer to me.”

However Rana’s defence attorney Charles Swift insisted that Headley falsely implicated Rana and manipulated the government as he had when he was a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant, the investigative group said.

Swift was also quoted as saying it is doubtful that the top suspects in Pakistan will ever be brought to trial.

ProPublica said the FBI has developed a lot of information about the identities and whereabouts of Major Iqbal and other suspected masterminds. But US officials admit Pakistan has resisted pressure from Washington to go after them, it said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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