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US Court Indicts Headley, Rana On Federal Terrorsim Charges

PTI January 15, 2010 10:50 IST
PTI

Two Pakistani-origin Chicago-residents — Tahawwur Hussein Rana and David Coleman Headley — were today indicted by a federal grand jury in the US on charges of plotting attack on a Danish newspaper and helping plan the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that killed 163 people including six American nationals. 

The 12-count superseding indictment contains identical charges that were filed against Headley, a US citizen, on December 7 last year. 

It adds Rana, a Canadian citizen, as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba. 

Also indicted on conspiracy charges related to the Denmark plot were Ilyas Kashmiri, an alleged terror kingpin in Pakistan who is said to be in regular contact with Al-Qaeda leaders and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani military, the US Department of justice said in a statement. Neither man is in US custody. 

Both Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman were charged in two conspiracy counts relating to the Denmark terrorism plot. 

Rana and Abdur Rehman were charged separately in previous court filings, but today's indictment charges Kashmiri for the first time, although he was identified by name in the charges filed previously against Rana, Abdur Rehman and Headley. 

Rana, 49, has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested on October 18 last year in connection with the planned attack on a Danish newspaper.

Lashkar-e-Taiba had started planning for the Mumbai terrorist attacks at least three years before its strikes in November 2008. 

According to the charges filed by American federal prosecutors before a Chicago court, an unnamed Lashkar member A, who served as a "handler" for terror suspect David Coleman Headley and another person associated with LeT, advised him in late 2005 that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance of potential targets for Lashkar. 

Arrested by the FBI in October last year, Headley, a Pakistani-American, has been charged with planning terrorist attack in India and being involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack. 

His school-time friend Tahawwur Hussein Rana has also been arrested and indicted on similar charges.

In an indictment filed before the Chicago court today, federal prosecutors said, as per direction given by his LeT handlers Headley changed his given name of Daood Gilani on February 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani. 

In the spring of 2006, Lashkar Member A and a Lashkar associate discussed with Headley the idea that he could open an immigration office in Mumbai as a cover for his surveillance activities. 

In June 2006, Headley allegedly traveled to Chicago, advised Rana, a Canadian citizen, of his assignment to scout potential targets in India, and obtained approval from Rana, who owned 'First World Immigration Services' in Chicago and elsewhere, to open an office in Mumbai as cover for his activities. 

The prosecutors said Rana allegedly directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents supporting Headley's cover story of opening a First World office in Mumbai, and advised Headley how to obtain a visa for travel to India. 

Headley misrepresented his birth name, his father's true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application, the indictment alleges. 

In July 2006, unnamed Person A in Pakistan gave Headley approximately USD 25,000 to establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and to pay for living expenses while Headley carried out his assignment for Lashkar, the charges add. 

Headley later made five extended trips to Mumbai -- in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008 -  each time taking photographs and making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked on 26 November 2008, and using his association with First World as cover for his travels. PTI