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Mumbai bomber trial delayed by US court

January 08, 2011

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 file courtroom sketch, Chicago terrorism suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, appears before federal Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan, in Chicago. Federal prosecutors say Rana knew in advance about the deadly Mumbai terror attacks, and offered congratulations to the killers. –AP Photo

CHICAGO: The trial of a Chicago businessman accused of helping an old friend from military school in Pakistan plot the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks has been delayed until May, officials said Friday.

Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 49, has been held in jail since his October 2009 arrest on charges of helping plot an attack on the Danish newspaper that published incendiary cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Prosecutors allege that Rana helped his friend David Coleman Headley, a key suspect in the Mumbai attacks, by allowing him to use his immigration company as a cover for surveillance trips to India and Denmark.

Headley cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in March.

Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen who owns the Chicago-based First World Immigration Services that Headley allegedly used as a cover, insists that he is a pacifist who was “duped” by his friend.

Prosecutors allege that Rana was well aware of Headley’s terrorist activities and acted as a messenger while Headley scoped out the Mumbai terror targets, taking photos and video and entering their positions on a GPS device.

Nearly a year after the bloody 60-hour siege, which began November 26, 2008 and left 166 people dead, Headley was allegedly recorded discussing five future targets with Rana.

Prosecutors said the targets included: Bollywood; the Indian temple Somnath; the National Defense College in Delhi; Shiv Sena, a political party in India with roots in Hindu nationalism; and the Danish newspaper.

Originally scheduled to begin on February 14, Rana’s trial is now set for May 16.