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FBI foils LeT plan to carry out major terror attack in India

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning to use an American national to carry out a major terrorist attack in India, US investigating authorities said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2009 23:36 IST

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning to use an American national to carry out a major terrorist attack in India, US investigating authorities said on Tuesday.

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

49-year-old Headley, 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 today.

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 is 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 surveilling 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.

In January 2009, Headley travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rana allegedly arranged portions of his travel. In late July 2009, Headley travelled again to Copenhagen and to other locations in Europe, and Rana again arranged portions
of his travel.

After returning to Chicago in August, Headley allegedly used coded language to repeatedly inquire if Individual A had been in touch with Kashmiri regarding planning for the attack, and expressing concern that Individual A's communications with Kashmiri had been cut off.

In early September, Headley and Rana took a lengthy car ride during which they discussed the activities of the other individuals, including past terrorist acts, and Headley discussed with Rana five actions involving targets that
expressly included Denmark.

"In conversations with Rana and Individual A in August and September, Headley indicated that if the 'doctor' (alleged
to be a reference to Kashmiri) and his people were unable to assist, then Headley would perform the planned operation
himself."

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, intending to travel on to Pakistan.

During a search of Headley's luggage, a memory stick was recovered that contained approximately 10 short videos of
Copenhagen, including video focused on the Jyllands-Posten building in King's Square taken both during the day and night, as well as a nearby Danish military barracks and the exterior and interior of Copenhagen's central train station, consistent with the checklist he stored which mentioned "route design".