Attorney in terror trial defended bin Laden's driver

May 19, 2011 4:20:36 AM PDT
A jury was seated Wednesday in the federal terrorism case against Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana.

In this Intelligence Report: The terror suspect's lawyer who made a name for himself defending Osama bin Laden's chauffeur.

If Rana's lawyer is as successful with him as he was getting off Bin Laden's driver, Rana will be free by the Fourth of July. Wednesday, after overcoming days of anti-Islamic sentiments from prospective jurors, A 12-member jury was seated to hear evidence that Rana had a hand in the Mumbai massacre. It is a jury made up mostly of minorities.

"I believe we got a jury of Mr. Rana's peers, people who can understand Mr. Rana's position as an immigrant," said Rana attorney Charlie Swift. "People who can understand Mr. Rana's position as a minority in his community and as a businessman and a family man."

Rana, a 50-year-old Pakistani-born Chicagoan, operated a North Side travel service. He is charged with helping plot the 2008 massacre of more than 160 people in Mumbai, India.

The claim to fame of Rana's attorney Charlie Swift is his representation of Salim Ahmed Hamdan. In 2003 Hamdan was taken prisoner by the U.S. and admitted being Osama bin Laden's driver. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 ruled that holding Hamdan was illegal and he has since been released.

Here in Chicago, in the Rana case, attorney Swift will have to diffuse the testimony of Chicagoan David Coleman Headley, who was charged with Rana and has since pleaded guilty.

"[Rana] had the unfortunate fate of being friends with a terrorist," said Swift. "He was friends because they were friends at school, when they were young children, and he extended that friendship and loyalty, and David Headley betrayed that."

Headley admits to attending terror training camps in Pakistan and conducting surveillance for the Mumbai attacks.

"What this case is gonna be about is Headley's betrayal of his friend Rana, the United States, his betrayal of human and decent values," said Swift. "Ironically, a person like that will be called by the United States in this case."

Swift's previous case involving Bin Laden's driver is already legendary in legal circles and the rights to the story were bought recently by George Clooney's film company. There have been some reports that either Clooney or Matt Damon would play Swift.

But, first, the curtain will go up on Tahawwur Rana's trial. Opening statements Monday morning in federal court in Chicago.


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