Two Men Arrested, Charged in Overseas Terrorism Plot

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Chicago, IL—Two men from Chicago have been charged in a terrorist plot that allegedly targeted an editor and cartoonist behind a controversial series of Danish newspaper cartoons.

United States federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday that the men, David Coleman Headley, 49, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, were being charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy. Headley was also charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States. It seems that the two had surveilled sites to attack in Denmark, including offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in both Copenhagen and Aarhus.

In 2005, the newspaper published a total of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, some of them portraying him as a terrorist. Islamic law forbids any depiction of Mohammed, even positive ways, as leading to idolatry, and the cartoons sparked an international firestorm of controversy.

Prosecutors said the two men, who had been schoolmates in Pakistan, had originally planned to attack both offices of the newspaper, but then scaled down the plan to kill the paper’s former cultural editor and the cartoonist. Headley, who was arrested on October 3 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, told FBI agents that he called the conspiracy “the Mickey Mouse project” and that he had contacts in Pakistan who were aiding him.

Headley is a United States citizen who changed his name in 2006 from Daood Gilani. He is being detained in custody pending a December bond hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys. Rana, who was arrested on October 18, is scheduled to attend a bond hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan on Wednesday and is also currently in custody.

According to prosecutors, at the time of his arrest, Headley was carrying a flash drive in his luggage that had video surveillance of sites in Denmark. He also allegedly had reported some information to people with ties to overseas terrorism activities, including at least one individual with ties to al-Qaida. He told FBI agents that he had worked with Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakinstani-based terrorist, and that the two had planned an attack in Denmark. Headley also claimed to have trained with a terrorist organization known as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

United States Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a statement to reassure the public that “there was no imminent danger in the Chicago area.”

If convicted of the charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy, each man will face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

 

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