CHICAGO – Two Chicago men were indicted Thursday on charges they planned a violent attack on a Danish newspaper and helped lay the groundwork for the November 2008 terrorist rampage killed 166 people in the Indian city of Mumbai.
Businessman Tahawwur Rana and his associate David Coleman Headley already had been charged with assistance to terrorism but the 12-count indictment expanded allegations against Rana to include the Mumbai attacks. Both are in federal custody in Chicago.
Retired Pakistani military officer Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed and reputed terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri — described as having been in regular contact with al-Qaida's No. 3, Sheikh Mustafa Abu al-Yazid — also were charged in the new indictment. Abdur Rehman and Kashmiri are accused of being involved with the plans to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, which in 2005 printed 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked outrage in the Muslim world.
Officials say the defendants were linked to the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, translated as Army of the Pure, which has long been involved in violent conflict with India over the disputed Kashmir territory. The Indian government has blamed the group for the Mumbai attacks and the U.S. government has designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.
Headley, 49, formerly named Daood Gilani, is the son of a Pakistani father and an American mother. He has authorized the government to disclose that he is cooperating in the investigation, prosecutors said. His attorney, John Theis, declined to comment Thursday.
Rana, 49, is a Pakistan-born Canadian national who has based his First World Immigration Service company and other businesses in Chicago for more than a dozen years. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney, Patrick Blegen. Blegen has called Rana a legitimate businessman who was duped by Headley and denies the charges against him.
Kashmiri has been described as a leader of the terrorist group Harakat-ul Jihad Islami. The indictment marks the first appearance in the case for al-Yazid, described as a leader of Al Qaeda's activities in Afghanistan.
The indictment alleges Headley attended terrorism training camps run by Lashkar in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003. He is accused of conducting surveillance of Mumbai targets in five trips over two years preceding the 2008 attacks.
Headley received approval from Rana in June 2006 to open a Mumbai branch of First World Immigration Service as a cover for his surveillance activities, according to the indictment. It said Rana directed a First World employee to prepare documents supporting the story and showed Headley how to get a visa for travel to India.
The indictment said Headley photographed and videotaped potential targets, including the Taj Mahal Hotel and other sites later attacked with firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices by 10 terrorists who stormed through the city, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more, including Americans.
Headley also is accused of conducting surveillance at Jyllands Posten newspaper offices in the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aahus. Rana allegedly sent a January 2009 e-mail to the newspaper pretending to be interested in placing an ad for First World, the indictment said.
The following month, Abdur Rehman allegedly took Headley to meet with Kashmiri in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. Kashmiri reviewed Headley's surveillance and suggested using a truck bomb on the paper, according to the indictment.
That May, Kashmiri told Headley to meet with unnamed contacts in Europe who would provide money, weapons and manpower for the attack, the indictment said. But Headley was arrested while the plans still were under way, it said.
Headley is charged with 12 counts. Six charge a conspiracy to murder and maim people in India and provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum punishment is the death penalty.
Rana is charged with three counts of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman are charged with conspiracy to murder and maim people in Denmark. They would face a possible death penalty if they were to be brought to the United States and convicted.