Chicago terror suspect is Pakistani army deserter

January 5, 2010 10:00:00 PM PST
The Chicago businessman used the so-called 'deserter defense' in a motion filed in federal court, as he renewed his effort today to be freed on bond. Rana is seeking release as he awaits trial on charges that he took part in a plan to attack a Danish newspaper over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that offended Muslims. Click here to read Rana's motion
Click here to read Judge Nan Nolan's order of detention
Click here to read a transcript of court proceedings on 11/3/09
Click here to read a transcript of court proceedings on 12/2/09

Mr. Rana appeared Wednesday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly making a bond request that has already been denied by another federal judge. But Rana learned that a decision on his continuing request for bond won't be coming quickly. Prosecutors told Judge Kennelly they expect an indictment by Jan. 14, which could send the case to yet a different judge. Kennelly said he won't act until he's sure he will remain on the case.

Regardless, the motion filed by Rana's lawyers provides new details about his background-including Rana's admitted desertion from the Pakistani army:

"Defendant's Pakistani background should raise no concerns whatsoever regarding risk of flight. As noted in the Pretrial Report, while serving as a physician in the Pakistani military, Defendant was transported to high elevation in the Northern Areas of Pakistan without proper acclimatization to the conditions.

As a result, Defendant suffered from High Altitude Cerebral Edema ("HACE") which led to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema ("HAPE"). Though the effects of both conditions were temporarily reversed by bringing Defendant down to lower elevations, the lingering effects of the conditions were such that the Pakistani military could not properly administer treatment. Defendant requested and was granted leave to seek medical treatment and subsequently flew to England for treatment.

While in England, it became apparent that such treatment would not be possible within the time frame of Defendant's leave. Despite having earned five years leave based on seven years service in the Pakistani military, Defendant was denied extended leave upon request. Defendant continued to request leave based on the need for treatment of both HACE and HAPE, which was denied.

Ultimately, Defendant's treatment forced him to overstay his leave, making him a de jure deserter from the Pakistani military. Defendant has not returned to Pakistan since, and any attempt to flee to Pakistan would be met with incarceration and court martial proceedings. As such, Defendant presents no risk of fleeing to Pakistan because to do so would only change the location of his detention.

Furthermore, the United States and Pakistan have a long standing bilateral extradition treaty, so any attempt to flee to his home country would ultimately be in vain."

Federal prosecutors say he should remain behind bars because knew about plans to commit terrorist attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008. The assault resulted in 175 deaths. In affidavits filed in federal court, the FBI said 48-year-old Rana, co-conspirator of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley, "knew in advance" about the 26/11 Mumbai attacks after which he "complimented" the Pakistan-based terror outfit.

It is unclear whether the federal grand jury indictment that the government promises before Jan. 14 will include additional terrorism charges against Mr. Rana.

Rana's attorneys say that the allegations are serious, but maintain the defendant's role as alleged in the complaint is comparatively minor, given the scope and purpose of the supposed plot.


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