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Mumbai Terror Trial Gets Underway in Chicago

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago terrorism trial set to begin on Monday, of Pakistani-Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, is going to reveal information that could cause serious diplomatic heartburn between the United States, Pakistan, and India.

The trial could also renew calls in Congress to cut foreign aid to Pakistan; there may be testimony that highlights that Pakistan's intelligence service had a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 164 dead, including six Americans.

Rana has been charged with three counts of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group, assisting Chicago resident David Headley, the operational planner of the Mumbai attacks.  Headley, who pleaded guilty last year to terrorism charges, conducted surveillance for the attackers, used a GPS to program in key location markers for the Mumbai terrorists as they moved to their targets and ravaged the city for three days in November 2008.  They struck luxury hotels, the train station, restaurants and a Jewish center.

Rana, who owned and oversaw the First World Immigration Services in Chicago and other cities, allegedly allowed Headley to use his business as a cover.  The indictment filed against Rana and other conspirators in the case alleged that in June 2006 Headley "advised…[Rana] of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India and obtained Rana's approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, India as a cover for these activities."

Last month a superseding indictment revealed the names of additional plotters in the case: Sajid Mir (Headley's handler), Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, and a man known only as "Major Iqbal" who is believed to be in either the ISI or Pakistani military.

Court watchers, journalists and the victims of the Mumbai attacks hope to learn more about the mysterious Major Iqbal and who he may be.  Several of the U.S. family members who lost their loved ones in the attacks have sued the Pakistani government and the ISI.

According to court records in the civil lawsuit, the attorneys representing the families attempted to serve subpoenas to Major Iqbal and members of the ISI to find out information about the attacks.  Several of the subpoenas were returned unopened but the subpoena for Major Iqbal, which was delivered to a location in Pakistan, was returned to the New York attorneys and had been opened.

A jury of eight women and four men will be hearing extensive testimony in a trial that is expected to last four to five weeks.  The judge has ordered that the jury remain anonymous given the security concerns and nature of a high profile terrorism trial. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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