The FBI arrested David Coleman Headley, a Chicago resident earlier this month for plotting terror-attacks overseas, including India. He was arrested along with a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin by the FBI’s joint terrorism task force. Headley, a U.S. citizen who resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan.
Reports also indicated that they planned to attack the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which published some cartoons of the prophet, including one with a bomb as a turban, in 2005.
Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, was planning to use an American national to carry out another major attack in India, the FBI said Tuesday.
Indian sleuths would now join their FBI counterparts on Monday to ineterrogate David Coleman Headley, for his role and association in a attack plot on India, as fresh inputs indicated that he was planning to visit Pakistan this month. Indian investigators from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are also expected to probe the terror-drug nexus as it has come to light that Headley was charged by a federal court in New York in 1997 with smuggling heroin to the US.
In 1997 he was still operating under his name Daood Saleem Gilani; under which name the case is still in the court records which also shows he was living in New York. Gilani was sentenced to a 15-month prison term in that case. He was travelling to Pakistan and bringing heroin back.
One of Headley’s cousins, Farid Gilani of Philadelphia, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he spoke to Headley over the phone about a month ago. “He was supposed to come (and) visit me, but he never came,” Farid Gilani was quoted as saying. “He said ‘I am going back home to Pakistan.”
A Department of Justice press release sourced from it website lists the details of arrest as well as charges on the two accused:
Headley, a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 and resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to that overseas terrorism conspiracy.
Rana, a native of Pakistan and citizen of Canada who also primarily resides in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 18, 2009, at his home by federal agents. Rana is the owner of several businesses, including First World Immigration Services, which has offices on Devon Avenue in Chicago, as well as in New York and Toronto. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy that involved Headley and at least three other specific individuals in Pakistan.
In a related development, a senior Pakistan diplomat has come under the FBI scanner for his links with the two accused arrested individuals. Aman Rashid, who is currently Pakistan’s consul general in Chicago, was trying to help Headley acquire a Pakistan visa, the FBI said in its chargesheet while suggesting that he may not have been aware of the true identity of Headley and the purpose of his visit to the country.
A revised FBI chargesheet said that Rashid and the two accused went to the same military high school in a town called Hasan Abdal, 40 km northwest of Rawalpindi in northern Punjab. FBI also found that Rashid, Headley and Rana were all Abdalians, as former students of the Cadet College Hasan Abdal school describe themselves. The FBI told the court that postings to a Yahoo group of graduates of the military school suggested that both Headley and Rana were members of the group.
The FBI said that Rana was in touch with Rashid for arranging Pakistan visa for Headley to facilitate his visit to NWFP where he was scheduled to meet LeT leaders. “On or about September 25, 2009, Rana spoke by telephone with the consul general at the Pakistani consulate in Chicago in an effort to obtain a five-year visa for Headley to travel to Pakistan. It is clear from the email traffic unrelated to terrorist plotting that the consul general knows Rana and Headley personally as all three attended the same high school,” the FBI stated in its chargesheet filed in a Chicago court.
The transcripts of phone conversations and emails in FBI’s possession indicate that LeT was planning to use Headley for attack on an Indian actor named “Rahul”. Headley is reported to have divulged to the FBI his intention to travel to Pakistan in early October where he was supposed to meet with an unidentified LeT individual and another man named (Ilyas) Kashmiri, an LeT terrorist who was earlier with Pakistan’s Special Services Group.
While the Indian Home Minister, P Chidambaram clarified that it is not Congress leaders “Rahul” Gandhi it may be a code name for some other leader or individual.
“It is not the Rahul that you think it is. It could be a pseudonym, it could be a code name but please be assured that it is not the Rahul that you think is,” he (Chidamabaram) said.
The DoJ release indicated that there was no “imminent threat” in the Chicago area.
There was no imminent danger in the Chicago area, officials said, adding that the charges are unrelated to recent terror plot arrests in Boston, New York, Colorado, Texas and central Illinois.
At the same time, the October 18 raids on the goat farm house of Rana have become the talk of the Kinsman town on the outskirts of Chicago, when nearly 100 sleuths with helicopters and latest equipment landed up. Incidentally, there are three nuclear power plants near Kinsman. A Kinsman resident told a local daily that the raid was upsetting as no one was aware of what was going on until the FBI announcement made public the arrest of the two early this week.
The US state department has meanwhile issued a short term “travel alert” advising Americans “to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.’’ The “travel alert’’ is different from the “travel warning,’’ as describes short-term conditions. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the region are on a “travel warning”, alongwith other nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Philippines among others.