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FBI busts LeT plan to use American for attacks in India

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, was planning to use an American national to carry out another major terrorist attack in India, the FBI said.

world Updated: Oct 28, 2009 09:37 IST
Arun Kumar

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 terrorist attack in India, the FBI said Tuesday.

The man, identified as David Coleman Headley, was arrested early this month by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force at O'Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan.

Headley, 49, along with a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, have been arrested on charges of plotting a terror attack against the facilities and employees of a Danish newspaper, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, federal law enforcement officials announced Tuesday.

The Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, also known as Tahawar Rana, was also a resident of Chicago and was arrested by the FBI on October 18.

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.

According to the FBI affidavit filed in a Chicago court, Headley was in close contact with Ilyas Kashmiri and several unidentified leaders of LeT.

Kashmiri is the operational chief of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir section of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), a Pakistani-based terrorist organisation with links to Al Qaeda. Kashmiri, who is presently believed to be in Pakistan's restive Waziristan tribal region, issued a statement this month that he was alive and working with Al Qaeda.

The identities of other LeT leaders, who are associated with Kashmiri, have not been revealed and are mentioned as "LeT member A" and "LeT member B" in the affidavit.

"In July and August 2009, Headley exchanged a series of e-mails with LeT Member A, including an exchange in which Headley asked if the Denmark project was on hold, and whether a visit to India that LeT Member A had asked him to undertake was for the purpose of surveillance of targets for a new terrorist attack," the FBI said in its affidavit.

"These e-mails reflect that LeT Member A was placing a higher priority on using Headley to assist in planning a new attack in India than on completing the planned attack in Denmark," it said.

After this time, Headley and LeT Member A allegedly continued focusing on the plan with Kashmiri to attack the newspaper, rather than working with LeT, the complaint alleges.

According to the affidavit, Headley stated in conversations last month that he intended to travel to Pakistan in October to meet with Individual A and Kashmiri, and he was arrested on October 3 as he prepared to board a flight from Chicago to Philadelphia for onward travel on to Pakistan.