Star Witness Testifies in Terror Trial

David Coleman Headley points finger at defendant, longtime friend

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Headley testifies that Pakastani Intelligence Service provided help to terror group in 2008 Mumbai attack. (Published Monday, May 23, 2011)

    A key witness in the trial of a Chicago businessman testified Monday that he made multiple scouting trips to India before the 2008 Mumbai attacks and gave frequent updates about his progress to his two Pakistani handlers -- one from a militant group and the other from the country's main intelligence agency.

    David Coleman Headley took the stand for the prosecution in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana.

    Rana has pleaded not guilty to helping plan the deadly attacks, but Headley already admitted his role in laying the groundwork for the Mumbai incident, and agreed to testify against Rana to avoid the death penalty.

    After opening statements Monday, the government called Headley, a Pakistani-American, to the witness stand where he spent hours detailing the formulation of the attacks and Rana's alleged help in providing cover for his surveillance activities in India.

    Headley said he has been involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba for more than a decade, but he wasn't working with someone in the ISI until years later after he was arrested by tribal police near Afghanistan. It was then he said he met a major in the ISI and told him what he and Lashkar were planning.

    Prosecutors allege that Rana not only knew what Headley was doing, but approved an helped him by letting him use his Devon Avenue immigration business as a cover.

    Rana's attorneys maintain that their client was indebted to Headley, who they characterized in opening statements as a "master manipulator" who "made a fool of Dr. Rana."

    The three-day siege in Mumbai left more than 160 people dead, including six Americans.

    Also at issue was a planned attack against a Danish newspaper that ran a cartoon of the prophet Muhammed. Rana's business was also allegedly used as a cover for a retribution reconnaissance mission by Headley, supported by both the ISI and Lashkar.

    Headley's testimony was expected to resume Tuesday morning.