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Mumbai plotter no longer proud of attacks

27 may 2011, 13:56
0
The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Attack on  November 29, 2009. ©AFP
The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Attack on November 29, 2009. ©AFP
An American-Pakistani who helped plot the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks came close Thursday to expressing remorse for the bloody strikes in which 166 people were killed and hundreds more wounded, AFP reports.

David Coleman Headley, who has admitted 12 terror charges arising out of the attacks on India's financial capital, said during the Chicago trial of his friend, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, that he was no longer proud of the attacks.

Towards the end of nearly three hours of cross examination, defense attorney Patrick Blegen asked Headley: "You were proud of it (the attacks) then?"

"Yes," Headley replied.

"Are you still proud of it today?" Blegen asked.

"No," Headley replied without a moment's hesitation.

There was no explanation as to why he felt differently now, as the hearing then adjourned until Tuesday after a long holiday weekend in the United States.

Rana is accused of providing Headley with a cover and acting as a messenger, with prosecutors alleging he played a behind-the-scenes logistical role in both the 2008 Mumbai attacks and another abortive plan to strike Copenhagen.

Rana, a Canadian-Pakistani and Chicago businessman, has denied all charges, and his defense attorneys argue that he was duped by his friend, whom he had met in military school.

The Mumbai attacks left 166 people dead and more than 300 wounded after coordinated strikes on high-profile targets by 10 heavily armed Islamist extremists.

A twice convicted drug dealer, Headley formally admitted to the charges in March 2010 after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty or to allow him to be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark on related charges.

Headley's apparent show of contrition came following three days of testimony during which he expressed intense dislike for India, which he said dated back to the 1971 India-Pakistan war, when his primary school was bombed.

Headley had described the Mumbai attacks as evening scores with India.

As his "closest" friend, Rana, watched with a weary smile, Blegen and his partner, defense attorney Charles Swift, peppered Headley with questions in a bid to discredit him and bolster the credibility of Rana.

Dressed in a blue striped t-shirt, dark blue jacket and track pants, Headley sat in the witness box largely unruffled until he was asked by Swift about espionage work he undertook reportedly at the prompting of an officer of Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) known as Major Iqbal.

Swift asked Headley if he was instructed by Major Iqbal to give Rana "only generalities."

Headley responded saying, "Just what he needed to know."

"Yet you violated every rule that you had been taught," Swift told him.

"I violated some," Headley said.

Headley also seemed to fumble while explaining when and how he warned Rana from traveling to India because of the impending terror strikes.

The Mumbai attacks stalled a fragile four-year peace process between India and Pakistan, two South Asian neighbors and nuclear-armed rivals, which was only resumed in February.

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