Pakistan's former military officer 'co-conspirator' of Headley: NYT | world | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan's former military officer 'co-conspirator' of Headley: NYT

The arrests of David Coleman Headley and his associate Tawwahur Hussain Rana - the two Chicago men accused of planning a new attack in India - have widened into a global terrorism inquiry that has led to arrests in Pakistan and implicated a former Pakistani military officer as a co-conspirator, according to the New York Times citing unnamed officials.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2009 23:11 IST

The arrests of David Coleman Headley and his associate Tawwahur Hussain Rana - the two Chicago men accused of planning a new attack in India - have widened into a global terrorism inquiry that has led to arrests in Pakistan and implicated a former Pakistani military officer as a co-conspirator, according to the New York Times citing unnamed officials.

In India, where the two men are said to have wanted to attack the country's National Defence College, investigators are trying to determine whether the two men played a role in attacks a year ago in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

"The case is one of the first criminal cases in which the federal authorities seem to have directly linked terrorism suspects in the US to a former Pakistani military officer, though they have long suspected connections between extremists and many members of the Pakistani military," the New York Times reported.

Intelligence officials believe that some Pakistani military and intelligence officials even encourage terrorists to attack what they see as Pakistan's enemies, including targets in India.

Headley, 49, and Rana, 48, were accused in complaints unsealed Oct 27 of plotting an attack on a newspaper in Copenhagen that published cartoons on Prophet Mohammed in 2005 that offended many Muslims.

The complaints suggested that Headley - who was accused of the most serious charges, attempting to murder and maim in a foreign country - had cooperated with the authorities after his arrest Oct 3 as he boarded a plane on the first leg of a trip to Pakistan.

The officials, who asked not to be identified because they were discussing a continuing inquiry, now say that the investigation has widened further in part because of the wealth of information supplied by Headley.

John Theis, a lawyer for Headley, and Patrick W. Blegen, a lawyer for Rana, would not comment on who was suspected of being the co-conspirator or other matters in the case.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago, also declined to comment. Headley and Rana are in custody pending further proceedings. Each is scheduled to appear at a detention hearing in early December.

A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy here also declined to comment, citing the continuing inquiry.

Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, is a US citizen who lived in Pakistan but recently was mainly a resident of Chicago. Rana is a Canadian citizen who has lived legally in Chicago, where he operated a travel agency and other businesses.

The two are graduates of a military academy in the town of Hasan Abdal in Pakistan, and they maintained e-mail contact with other former students, including officers in Pakistan's military. They belonged to a group of the school's graduates who referred to themselves as the "abdalians" in Internet postings, according to government affidavits.

American military and intelligence officials said the case reflected a new and evolving pattern of individual militants with different backgrounds and experience, rather than terrorist groups, teaming up to plot and carry out attacks.