Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mormons Charged With Terror Plot!

Sorry, I couldn't find any Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu terror plots. But, the religion of peace has been quite busy lately with terror plots in Boston, New York Colorado, Texas and our very own Chicago. These upstanding citizens allegedly planned to visit Denmark to kill a blasphemous cartoonist and undertake other terrorist attacks. Of course the majority of Moslem immigrants are good, law abiding citizens, but perhaps it wouldn't hurt to better screen immigrants coming from countries with high rates of terrorism. And (close your eyes champeons of diversity) perhaps we should even seek immigrants from nations and cultures that are better able to assimilate to American cultural norms like: it's not nice to blow up buildings and to behead cartoonists even if you don't like what they write.

Two Chicago Men Charged in Connection With Alleged Roles in Foreign Terror Plot That Focused on Targets in Denmark

CHICAGO, Oct. 27 /PR Newswire-USNewswire/ -- Two Chicago men have been arrested on federal charges for their alleged roles in conspiracies to provide material support and/or to commit terrorist acts against overseas targets, including facilities and employees of a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of theProphet Mohammed in 2005, federal law enforcement officials announced today. There was no imminent danger in the Chicago area, officials said, adding thatthe charges are unrelated to recent terror plot arrests in Boston, New York,Colorado, Texas and central Illinois.

The defendants charged in separate criminal complaints unsealed today in U.S.District Court in Chicago are David Coleman Headley, 49, and Tahawwur HussainRana, 48, also known as Tahawar Rana, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S.Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, SpecialAgent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI. The complaints remainedunder seal temporarily after the defendants' arrests, with court approval, soas not to compromise further investigative activity.

Headley, a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 andresides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the ChicagoFBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O'Hare International Airport beforeboarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan. He wascharged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murderand maiming outside the United States and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to that overseas terrorism conspiracy.

Rana, a native of Pakistan and citizen of Canada who also primarily resides inChicago, was arrested on Oct. 18, 2009, at his home by federal agents. Ranais the owner of several businesses, including First World ImmigrationServices, which has offices on Devon Avenue in Chicago, as well as in New Yorkand Toronto. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to provide materialsupport to a foreign terrorism conspiracy that involved Headley and at leastthree other specific individuals in Pakistan.

Both men have been held in federal custody since each was arrested. Ifconvicted, Headley faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment forconspiracy to murder or maim persons abroad, while Headley and Rana each facea maximum of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism.

On Oct. 18, 2009, JTTF agents executed search warrants in connection with theinvestigation at four locations: Headley's and Rana's residences on the northside of Chicago, Rana's immigration business in Chicago, and a farm he owns inKinsman, Ill., approximately 80 miles southwest of Chicago, which is used toprovide halal meat for Muslim customers, as well as a grocery store in Chicago.

According to both complaints, since at least late 2008 until Oct. 3, 2009, aspart of the conspiracy to murder and maim persons abroad, Headley allegedlyidentified and conducted surveillance of potential targets of a terroristattack in Denmark on two separate trips to Denmark in January and July 2009,and reported and attempted to report on his efforts to other conspirators inPakistan. As part of the conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism,Rana allegedly helped arrange Headley's travels overseas and conceal theirtrue nature and purpose to surveil potential terror targets overseas, anddiscussed potential targets for attack with Headley.

Headley allegedly reported and attempted to report on his overseassurveillance to other conspirators, according to the affidavits, including:

--Ilyas Kashmiri, identified as the operational chief of the Azad Kashmir section of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), a Pakistani-based terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda. Kashmiri, who is presently believed to be in Waziristan in the Federally Administered Triba Area(FATA)
region in northwestern Pakistan, issued a statement this month that he was alive and working with al Qaeda;

--"Individual A" (who is identified as Individual A in the Headley affidavit and as Individual B in the Rana affidavit), who isassociated with Kashmiri, as well as with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), another Pakistani-based terrorist organization;

--an individual identified as "Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A" (LeT Member A), who has substantial influence and responsibility within theorganization and whose identity is known to the government.

"The public should be reassured that there was no imminent danger in theChicago area. However, law enforcement has the duty to be vigilant to guardagainst not just those who would carry out attacks here on our soil but thosewho plot on our soil to help carry out violent attacks overseas. I wish toexpress my deep appreciation to the FBI agents and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their extremely hard work on this matter," said Mr.Fitzgerald.

"The criminal complaints unsealed today have exposed a serious plot againstoverseas targets by two Chicago-based men working with Pakistani-basedterrorist organizations. Information developed during this investigation wasshared with our foreign partners as we worked together to mitigate thesethreats. This case is a reminder that the threat posed by internationalterrorist organizations is global in nature and requires constant vigilance athome and abroad," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

"This investigation demonstrates the well-established relationships that wehave with our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestic. We workclosely with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies in the UnitedStates, as well as with our overseas partners, to identify and disrupt threatshere and abroad," said Mr. Grant.

According to the affidavits in both cases, Headley at times has claimed to bea consultant with or representative of Rana's business, First WorldImmigration Services, but appears to perform little if any actual work for thebusiness. In addition, Headley's apartment in Chicago is leased to anindividual who is deceased. Despite his apparent lack of financial resourcesand substantial employment, Headley has traveled extensively since the secondhalf of 2008, including multiple trips to Pakistan and various countries inEurope. Postings to an internet group for graduates of a military school inthe Pakistani town of Hasan Abdal (a group that refers to itself as"abdalians"), reflect that both Rana and Headley have participated in thegroup and referred to their attendance at that school.

The Denmark ProjectBeginning in late 2008, Headley corresponded extensively with Individual A andLeT Member A regarding what they referred to in coded communications as the"Mickey Mouse Project," "mmp," and "the northern project," according to theaffidavit. The Mickey Mouse Project allegedly involved planning for one ormore attacks at facilities and employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper that in 2005 published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, to which many Muslims took great offense. In October 2008, Headleyallegedly posted a message to the "abdalians" internet discussion groupstating that "I feel disposed towards violence for the offending parties,"referring to the Danish cartoonists and others who he identified "as making fun of Islam."

Using coded language, Rana, Headley, Individual A and LeT Member A allegedlyhave referred to this plot, as well as discussions of other targets, as"investments," "projects," "business," and "action," and have described theirhopes for success both in terms of receiving religious awards, as well asgetting "rich," "richer," and making "profit." Between August 2008 and Dec.7, 2008, Headley sent multiple email messages from internet addresses locatedin Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan, the charges allege. On Dec. 7, 2008, justbefore traveling from Pakistan to the United States that same day, Headleyallegedly used one of multiple email accounts to store a detailed list ofitems for himself, which he titled "Mickey Mouse." Included on the list(contained in the affidavits) were the following items:

-- Route Design (train, bus, air)
-- Cross (Cover Authenticator)
-- Trade? Immigration?
-- Ad? (Lost Luggage) (Business) (Entry?)
-- Kings Square (French Embassy)
-- Counter surveillance (magic eye)
-- Security (armed)?

In January 2009, Headley traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rana allegedlyarranged portions of his travel. During the trip, Headley allegedly visitedtwo different offices of the Jyllands-Posten -- in Copenhagen and Arhus,Denmark. The Copenhagen office is located in Kings Square near the FrenchEmbassy. Headley falsely told Jyllands-Posten employees that he was visitingon behalf of First World Immigration Services, which he said was consideringopening offices in Denmark and might be interested in advertising the businessin the newspaper. While in Denmark, Headley instructed Rana to be alert foran email from a Jyllands-Posten sales representative, and to ask First World'sToronto and New York offices to "remember me," in case a newspaperrepresentative called. According to the complaints, Rana corresponded fromChicago with a representative of the Jyllands-Posten by email in which hepretended to be Headley.

After visiting Denmark, Headley traveled to Pakistan to meet with IndividualA. During this visit, Headley traveled with Individual A to Pakistan's FATAregion and met with Kashmiri. Before returning to Chicago in June 2009,Headley sent his will to Rana and Rana responded by sending a coded messageestablishing a new email account, the complaint alleges.

In July and August 2009, Headley exchanged a series of emails with LeT MemberA, including an exchange in which Headley asked if the Denmark project was onhold, and whether a visit to India that LeT Member A had asked him toundertake was for the purpose of surveilling targets for a new terroristattack. These emails reflect that LeT Member A was placing a higher priorityon using Headley to assist in planning a new attack in India than oncompleting the planned attack in Denmark. After this time, Headley andIndividual A allegedly continued focusing on the plan with Kashmiri to attackthe newspaper, rather than working with LeT, the complaint alleges.

In late July 2009, Headley traveled again to Copenhagen and to other locationsin Europe, and Rana again arranged portions of his travel. When Headleyreturned to the United States, he falsely told border inspectors that he wastraveling on business as a representative of First World Immigration, althoughhis luggage contained no papers or other documents relating to First World.

After returning to Chicago in August 2009, Headley allegedly used codedlanguage to repeatedly inquire if Individual A had been in touch with Kashmiriregarding planning for the attack, and expressing concern that Individual A'scommunications with Kashmiri had been cut off. In early September 2009,Headley and Rana took a lengthy car ride during which they discussed theactivities of the other individuals, including past terrorist acts, andHeadley discussed with Rana five actions involving targets that expresslyincluded "Denmark." In conversations with Rana and Individual A in August andSeptember 2009, Headley indicated that if the "doctor" (alleged to be areference to Kashmiri) and his people were unable to assist, then Headleywould perform the planned operation himself.

In September 2009, after initial press reports indicated that Kashmiri hadbeen killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, Headley and Individual A allegedlyhad a series of coded conversations in which they discussed the reports ofKashmiri's death and what it meant for the projects they were planning. Individual A sought to reassure and encourage Headley, telling him, amongother things, that "[t]his is business sir; these types of things happen." OnSept. 20, 2009, Headley allegedly told a family member words to the effectthat he had spoken to Rana and they agreed that "business must go on."

In a Sept. 21, 2009, telephone conversation, Individual A indicated to Headleythat Kashmiri was alive and "doing well." In a subsequent conversation onSept. 30, 2009, Individual A again assured Headley that Kashmiri, whom hereferred to as "Pir Sahib," was "absolutely all right" and had not gotten"married," which was code for being killed. Headley asked Individual A if itwas possible to now have a meeting with Kashmiri and Individual A respondedthat Kashmiri "just today, was asking about you" (Headley).

According to the affidavit, Headley stated in conversations last month that heintended to travel to Pakistan in early October to meet with Individual A andKashmiri, and he was arrested on Oct. 3 as he prepared to board a flight fromChicago to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan. During a searchof Headley's luggage, a memory stick was recovered that containedapproximately 10 short videos of Copenhagen, including video focused on theJyllands-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 ofCopenhagen's central train station, consistent with the checklist he storedwhich mentioned "route design." In addition, Headley had an airlinereservation, allegedly made by Rana, to fly from Atlanta to Copenhagen on Oct.29, 2009.

The investigation is continuing and is being conducted by the Chicago FBIJoint Terrorism Task Force, with particular assistance from the Chicago PoliceDepartment, the Illinois State Police and the Department of Homeland Security.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collinsand Vicki Peters from the Northern District of Illinois, with assistance fromthe Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National SecurityDivision.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains mere allegationsthat are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and areentitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of provingguilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


  1. I'm with you. Better screening of immigrants wouldn't hurt, but I'm afraid it's not enough anyway. And it is a kind of desperate situation if we realize, there's nothing, we could do about such plots, except for discovering them in advance, which, let's be honest, doesn't happen every time. Lorne

  2. Beyond monitoring and infiltrating terrorist groups, I do agree with you that there's very little we could do about such plots.