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US probes Rana's firm for immigration fraud

world Updated: Jan 03, 2010 20:54 IST

IANS
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As part of a widening investigation into Mumbai and Denmark terror plots, US authorities are probing the operations of Pakistani-Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Rana's firm for possible acts of immigration fraud, according to a media report.

"As part of a widening probe into an international terror plot rooted in the city, US authorities are sharpening their sights on First World Immigration in search of possible acts of immigration fraud," the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday, citing sources familiar with the probe.

Prosecutors charge that Pakistani-American David Headley, who is accused of scouting targets for Nov 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks for Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had told Rana in advance of the attack.

They also allege that First World Immigration Services owned by Rana served as a front in the Chicago-based terror plot to bomb a Danish newspaper that had published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

Rana, 48, they allege, helped Headley scout potential targets for terrorism by arranging to secure travel visas for Headley.

Rana, who also owns a grocery store in Chicago and a halal meat plant in Kinsman, Illinois, is in federal custody. He was arrested in October, along with Headley.

Federal authorities are now working to determine the immigration status of people who entered the US with the help of Rana's firm, located in the city's predominantly Indian-Pakistani area Devon Avenue.

According to court filings, Rana allegedly conspired to bring foreigners to the US under false pretences. In e-mail conversations, Rana advised an alleged member of the militant LeT about "loopholes" to get individuals into the US.

"Whenever you find easy way to come to US, immediately think there is a catch to it," Rana allegedly wrote in one e-mail, warning against using student visas.

In another message, Rana allegedly suggested that one individual be brought in under a false occupation. "Make him a cook," the e-mail allegedly said.

In another correspondence, Rana suggested a typewriter be used in an application that would include a false employer letter from 1983, noting that laser printers did not exist back then, prosecutors contended.