CHICAGO - A Chicago man accused of planning a terror attack against a Danish newspaper knew about a plot to attack Mumbai and offered congratulations to the killers afterward, federal prosecutors charged yesterday.
In papers filed in federal court in Chicago, prosecutors said Tahawwur Hussain Rana learned an attack was about to happen while traveling in Dubai days before the Nov. 26, 2008, assault on Mumbai that left 166 people dead, including six Americans.
Nine of the 10 attackers also were killed.
Rana, a 48-year-old Chicago businessman, is charged with providing material support to terrorists.
Prosecutors said that after the Mumbai attacks he told alleged coconspirator David Coleman Headley, 49, to pass along his congratulations to the extremist group for its excellent planning.
"Rana was told of the attacks before they happened and offered compliments and congratulations to those who carried them out afterwards," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Collins wrote in the court filing.
Rana was arrested Oct. 18 and charged with helping Headley plot an attack on a Danish newspaper that had printed 12 cartoons claiming to depict the Prophet Muhammad, sparking outrage in the Muslim world. He has been seeking his release on bond from the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
In their filing, prosecutors said Rana was a flight risk and urged U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan not to grant his release. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for today.
Rana's attorney, Patrick Blegen, has portrayed him as an innocent dupe of Headley, saying his client belonged to a study group that believed in the doctrine of nonviolence preached by Mohandas K. Gandhi, the father of Indian independence.
In their filing, prosecutors said Rana got advance word of the Mumbai attacks days after arriving in the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai from Mumbai. They did not say why Rana was in Mumbai.
During FBI questioning, Rana insisted he had no prior knowledge of the Mumbai attacks and said his discussion of other locations was just talk about possible business opportunities.
Federal authorities said those were lies.
In their filing, prosecutors alleged that in a secretly recorded conversation in September 2009, Rana and Headley discussed the possible attack in Denmark as well as attacks on Bollywood, the Indian film industry; Somnath, a temple; and Shiv Sena, a regional Hindu nationalistic political party.
They said Headley and Rana spoke about a meeting between Rana and a man they called "Pasha" days before 10 gunmen rampaged through the Indian city, killing their victims.
Prosecutors said Pasha was a retired Pakistani military officer, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, who is charged with involvement in the plan to attack the Danish newspaper.
They said Syed put Headley in touch with Ilyas Kashmiri, who has been linked to al-Qaeda and described as a leader of the extremist group Harakat-ul Jihad Islami.
Headley, whose father was Pakistani and mother a Philadelphia socialite, was arrested Oct. 3 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as he was about to board a plane for Philadelphia.
FBI agents said that at that time Headley readily admitted his role in the planned Danish attack. His attorneys have declined to comment.
Two Georgia men were each sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison yesterday for plotting to aid terrorists by sending homemade videos of Washington landmarks overseas and traveling abroad to try to turn their anti-American rhetoric into action.
Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to 17 years.
A jury had found him guilty of four terror-related charges in August. Hours later, Sadequee's friend Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, was sentenced to 13 years for conspiring to support terrorist groups. He was convicted in June. Both are U.S. citizens.
The two portrayed their online discussions about jihad as empty talk. Prosecutors admitted the two never posed
an imminent threat.
But they said the two sent choppy video clips of landmarks to suspected terrorists and traveled abroad, including to Bangladesh and Pakistan, to meet with contacts.
- Associated Press