2nd Chicago terror suspect knew of Mumbai attack

December 14, 2009 3:38:41 PM PST
A Chicago travel agent and terror suspect had advance knowledge of last year's deadly three-day attack on Mumbai, India, according to newly filed documents by federal prosecutors in Chicago.Tahawwur Hussain Rana Rana, a Chicago travel agency owner and owner of an Illinois goat slaughterhouse, is heard on a secret tape recording admitting that he knew Pakistani terrorists were going to assault hotels and public buildings according to the government.

Rana, whom prosecutors note "has even gone so far as to claim to this Court that his beliefs are akin to those of Gandhi" is portrayed as a supporter of violent Johad who needs to remain in custody without bond states the court motion.

Prosecutors write: "On September 7, 2009, Headley and Rana took a long car ride and discussed several topics. This conversation was recorded. During their conversation, Headley and Rana discussed the attacks that occurred in late November 2008 in Mumbai, India, in which approximately 170 people were killed. It is clear from the conversation and extrinsic corroboration that Rana was told just days before the Mumbai attacks that the attacks were about to happen. Elsewhere in the conversation, Rana asked Headley to pass Rana's compliments directly to the specific Lashkar e Tayyiba member they both knew who had coordinated the attacks."

It is unclear who or how the recording was made, although the government is known to have been following both men throughout the summer months. The FBI had been intercepting both phone calls and had the pair under surveillance around the time the eavesdropping was conducted in the car.

The government's motion describes how Rana had learned of the pending Mumbai attack during an in person meeting with Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, aka "Pasha," a former Pakistani military officer who has been accused with Headley in connection with a Danish terror plot. Prosecutors say Rana and Pasha met in Dubai and discussed the Mumbai attacks before they took place.

GOVERNMENT'S THIRD MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR DETENTION PENDING TRIAL (PDF))

This is a portion of the car conversation between Headley and Rana from the Sept. 7 recording, according to federal prosecutors:

Headley: When Pasha met you in Dubai [and] told you this was about to happen - this one, after that when you landed in America, how did you find out about it?

Rana: I was in the air.

Headley: How did you find out about it in the air -

Rana: Yeah

Headley: - was it coming in writing there.

Rana: I was in the air and [ui] I went to -

Headley: Yeah

Rana: I went from Dubai to China - was supposed to board the plane for America - this has started.

Headley: In Mumbai, yeah.

Rana: Yeah.

* * *

Headley: Did Pasha not say that?

Rana: Yes.

Headley: When he mentioned that -

Rana: What?

Headley: Pasha had mentioned that in Dubai that this is how -

Rana: That he said to me as well; but I deliberately have started planning.

Headley: Yes, yes absolutely.

Travel records for Rana corroborate that Rana was in Dubai days before the Mumbai attacks and was returning from China when the attacks occurred. Rana flew to Dubai and arrived on November 21, 2008.3/ Rana remained in Dubai until November 24, 2008. On November 24, 2008, Rana traveled to China from Dubai.4/ Then, on November 26, 2008 - the day that the Mumbai attacks started - Rana boarded a plane to return to America."

During questioning after his arrest, Rana told the FBI that he had no knowledge of the Mumbai attacks. He insisted that his discussion of the other possible terrorist attack locations was just talk about possible business opportunities.

Rana will appear in a Chicago courtroom tomorrow afternoon. His attorney is expected to continue a request that Rana be allowed to post bond.

Terror suspect: Pakistani army officers are jihadists

They were arrested and charged in the same case. But now the wheels of justice are turning in different directions for David Coleman Headley and Tahawwura Hussain Rana.

Headley is cooperating with federal authorities in an expanding investigation of a Pakistani terrorism cell that the FBI says he oversaw in Chicago.

Rana is fighting the charges and battling for bond as his lawyers suggest he was duped by the plot's alleged Chicago agent, David Headley.

Among the details that FBI interrogators have elicited from David Coleman Headley is "the involvement of Pakistani army officers in planning and executing terrorist operations against India" according to a report in the Times of India.

Headley, alias Daood Gilani, told FBI agents that a "section of serving Pakistan army officers" is working in collaboration with Jihadist groups including Lashkar-e-Tayyeba or LeT.

The information provided by Headley is consistent with what was found by an independent agency of the involvement of Pakistani army officers in Lashkar and other known terrorist organizations.

Headley whose mother is American but whose father was a Pakistani diplomat, grew up in Pakistan before moving to the United States. He and Rana were initially charged with a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that had published anti-Muslim cartoons.

However, Headley has since also been charged with scouting locations for a three-day Pakistani terrorist attack that began in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 and resulted in the deaths of 175 people.

A retired Pakistani military official was added to the latest terror charges by federal prosecutors in Chicago.

"During their discussions with FBI, the Indian side told them about their strong suspicion that Headley was present in the Karachi control room from which the Lashkar leadership choreographed the 26/11 terror attacks. The FBI team said this was not borne out by the evidence in their possession but the Indian side has asked the US agency to check a few facts which they have promised to do" the newspaper reported in today's editions.

Top officials of Indian law enforcement agencies were provided with details of the Headley interviews by an FBI team which visited south Asia last week

Pakistan has called the instances of army official being involved in terrorism "aberrations."

The FBI interrogation of David Coleman Headley "has revealed a Lashkar training project involving jihadi fugitives from India" states the Times of India report. "The youth, after they are trained by Pakistani army officials, are sent back to India as part of the gameplan to conceal the Pakistani involvement and pass off the terror in India as a home-grown phenomenon."

Headley case results in visa changes for Americans

The five trips Headley made from Chicago to India allegedly to conduct surveillance of hotels, restaurants and Jewish gathering places, were accomplished on a tourist visa. Under the nation's rules during the two-year period when Headley was visiting, tourists were permitted to use a single visa on multiple visits.

That is changing. Although specific rules have not been announced, Americans may soon have to wait 60-days between each exit and re-entry. According to the Hindustan Times, Indian security agencies pushed for the changes because of Headley's use of a tourist visa as a revolving door to Mumbai.

The United States Embassy in New Delhi sent a message to Americans in India stating that "The government of India is reviewing its regulations pertaining to the entry of American citizens holding long-term Indian tourist visas" reported the Hindustan Times. "To date, these new regulations are not finalized and are being implemented inconsistently."

Headley is being held without bond at the MCC-Chicago and awaits a January court date.

Rana is due to appear in federal court Tuesday in Chicago for another bond hearing. He has been held since his arrest in October without a bond decision from Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan.


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