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Rana only wanted to expand business in India: Defence lawyers

Lawyers for Pakistan born Tahawwur Rana have suggested that their client was not aware of the plot to attack Mumbai and was only interested in expanding his immigration business in India and in Scandinavia.

world Updated: May 27, 2011 12:01 IST

Lawyers for Pakistan born Tahawwur Rana have suggested that their client was not aware of the plot to attack Mumbai and was only interested in expanding his immigration business in India and in Scandinavia.

According to prosecution, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley, who has pleaded guilty to 12 charges, used the cover of his long-time friend Rana's business to scout targets in Mumbai and Denmark.

The planned attacks on a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad were dubbed the "Mickey Mouse Project" by Headley for use in coded conversations.

But defence attorney Charles Swift on Thursday attempted to show that Rana was not aware of Headley's involvement with the deadly plot to attack Mumbai or the one to attack the Jyllands Posten newspaper in Copenhagen.

Headley testified Thursday that Rana did meet a retired Pakistani military officer who was instrumental in the Mumbai plot but said the two only discussed the immigration business.

Swift noted that Rana came to Mumbai for a few days to check on his satellite office in India just weeks before the attack began on November 26.

Swift pointed out that when another of the Mumbai attack's masterminds asked Headley to conduct more surveillance at the Danish newspaper, Headley wanted to delay the trip because he wanted to spend time with his family, but used Rana as an excuse.

To buttress their argument the defence argued that when Headley communicated to his handlers in Pakistan, he sent the abbreviation MMP in his emails but did not use the abbreviation when he sent messages to Rana.

The jury was also shown an email that Headley sent Rana where he wrote, "I checked out business opportunities here... they seem quite promising."

"No reference to MMP," said Swift questioning Headley's testimony that he and Rana discussed the plan to attack the Danish newspaper.

Headley also testified that although he was informed the FBI wanted to meet with him in December 2008 he wanted to continue to prepare for the attack in Denmark.

After the Mumbai attacks, Headley's cousin in Philadelphia informed him that the FBI wanted to speak with him. At the time, Headley said, he was in Pakistan.

"I didn't want to wait," Headley said.