Ilyas Kashmiri and Retired Pakistan Major Charged in Denmark Plot
A federal grand jury today returned a superseding indictment adding three defendants, including Tahawwur Rana, to charges filed last month against David Coleman Headley, alleging that they and others participated in conspiracies involving a planned terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed approximately 164 people, including six Americans.
The 12-count superseding indictment contains the identical charges that were filed against Headley on Dec. 7, 2009, while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of the designated foreign terrorist organization Lashkar e Tayyiba. Also indicted were Ilyas Kashmiri, an allegedly influential terrorist organization leader in Pakistan who is alleged to be in regular contact with leaders of al Qaeda, and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), a retired major in the Pakistani military, both of whom were charged in two conspiracy counts relating to the Denmark terrorism plot.
Both Rana and Abdur Rehman were charged separately in previous court filings, but today’s indictment charges Kashmiri for the first time, although he was identified by name in the charges filed previously against Rana, Abdur Rehman, and Headley.
Rana, 49, a Canadian citizen, Chicago resident, and native of Pakistan, has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested on Oct. 18, 2009, in connection with the planned attack in Denmark. He was indicted today on three counts of providing material support to terrorism or a terrorist organization—one count of providing material support in preparation for and in carrying out the Mumbai attacks; one count of providing material support to the Denmark terrorism plot; and one count of providing material support to Lashkar e Tayyiba (Lashkar). Translated as the “Army of the Good,” Lashkar operated in Pakistan for the principal purpose of fighting to separate from India portions of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Lashkar was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in December 2001.
No date has been set yet for Rana to be arraigned in federal court in Chicago. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.
Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, also known as “Major Abdur Rehman” and “Pasha,” were each charged with one count of conspiracy to murder and maim persons in Denmark, and one count of providing material support to the Danish terrorism plot. Neither man is in U.S. custody.
Headley, 49, a U.S. citizen and Chicago resident, faces the same 12 counts that were filed against him last month—six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and Denmark, providing material support to foreign terrorist plots, and providing material support to Lashkar, and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India. Headley has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested in Chicago on Oct. 3, 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges but previously authorized the Justice Department to disclose that he is cooperating in the ongoing investigation.
In 2002 and 2003, Headley allegedly attended terrorism training camps in Pakistan maintained by Lashkar, and conspired with its members and others, including Rana, Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, in planning and executing the attacks in Denmark and India. He allegedly conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years preceding the November 2008 attacks that killed approximately 164 people and left hundreds more injured.
The superseding indictment was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI; and David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the FBI offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are also participating in the investigation and prosecution.
Mumbai Terror Attacks
According to the charges, unnamed Lashkar Member A, who served as a “handler” for Headley and another person associated with Lashkar, advised Headley in late 2005 that Headley would be traveling to India to perform surveillance of potential targets for Lashkar. Headley changed his given name of Daood Gilani on Feb. 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani. In the spring of 2006, Lashkar Member A and a Lashkar associate discussed with Headley the idea that he could open an immigration office in Mumbai as a cover for his surveillance activities.
In approximately June 2006, Headley allegedly traveled to Chicago, advised Rana of his assignment to scout potential targets in India, and obtained approval from Rana, who owned First World Immigration Services in Chicago and elsewhere, to open a First World office in Mumbai as cover for his activities. Rana allegedly directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents supporting Headley’s cover story of opening a First World office in Mumbai, and advised Headley how to obtain a visa for travel to India. Headley misrepresented his birth name, his father’s true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application, the indictment alleges.
In July 2006, unnamed Person A in Pakistan gave Headley approximately $25,000 to establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and to pay for living expenses while Headley carried out his assignment for Lashkar, the charges add.
Headley later made five extended trips to Mumbai—in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008—each time taking photographs and making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked in November 2008, and using his association with First World as cover for his travels. Before each trip, Lashkar members and associates allegedly instructed Headley regarding specific locations where he was to conduct surveillance, and Headley traveled to Pakistan after each trip to meet with Lashkar members and associates, report on the results of his surveillance, and provide the surveillance photos and videos.
During his meetings with Lashkar members and associates in Pakistan after the September 2007 surveillance trip to Mumbai, Lashkar Member A showed Headley a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel, and Person A provided Headley with approximately $2,000 worth of Indian currency for expenses, according to the indictment. Before the April 2008 surveillance trip, Lashkar Member A provided Headley with an additional $1,000 worth of Indian currency. In addition, Lashkar Members A and B provided Headley with a global positioning system device and showed him how to use it to record the locations of possible landing sites and potential targets in Mumbai, which Headley then used during his surveillance trips in April and July 2008, the charges state.
Before the July 2008 visit, Person A provided an additional $1,500 worth of Indian currency to Headley to keep the First World office open, but approved closing that office in the future and opening a new business in Delhi, India, to be used as cover for future activities. During Headley’s July 2008 surveillance mission, Person A communicated with Headley by passing messages to him through Rana, the indictment alleges.
Starting Nov. 26, 2008, and continuing through Nov. 28, 2008, 10 attackers trained by Lashkar carried out multiple assaults with firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices against multiple targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Café, the Chabad House, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, each of which Headley allegedly had scouted in advance, killing approximately 164 victims.
The six Americans killed during the three-day siege are identified in the charges as Ben Zion Chroman, Gavriel Holtzberg, Sandeep Jeswani, Alan Scherr, his daughter Naomi Scherr, and Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum.
Denmark Terror Plot
Regarding the Denmark terror plot, Headley allegedly conspired between October 2008, and Oct. 3, 2009, with Kashmiri, Abdur Rehman and others to plan and carry out terrorist attacks, including murder and maiming, against the facilities of the Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, and two of its employees, Editor A and Cartoonist A. In 2005, the newspaper had published 12 cartoons, some of which depicted the Prophet Mohammed, setting off protests throughout the Muslim world. In early 2008, the Jyllands-Posten and other Danish newspapers republished one of the cartoons which had drawn particularly strong criticism.
Today’s indictment alleges that Headley met with Lashkar Member A in Pakistan in October 2008 and discussed the prospect of an attack on the newspaper, including extensive surveillance work that Headley would perform. Lashkar Member A allegedly provided Headley with a thumb drive containing information about Denmark, the city of Copenhagen, and the newspaper. In late December 2008 and early January 2009, after reviewing with Rana how he had performed surveillance of the targets attacked in Mumbai, Headley advised Rana of the planned attack on the Danish newspaper and his intended travel to Denmark to conduct surveillance of its facilities. Headley allegedly obtained Rana’s approval and assistance to identify himself as a representative of First World and gain access to the newspaper’s offices by falsely expressing interest in placing advertising for First World in the newspaper. At the same time, while in Chicago, Headley exchanged emails with Abdur Rehman to continue planning for the attack and to coordinate his travel to Denmark to conduct surveillance. Before departing Chicago, Headley and Rana caused business cards to be made that identified Headley as a representative of the Immigration Law Center, the business name of First World, according to the charges.
Headley allegedly traveled in January 2009, from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark, to conduct surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus and to videotape the surrounding areas. On Jan. 29, 2009, Rana, posing as Headley, allegedly sent an e-mail to the Jyllands-Posten pretending to be interested in placing an advertisement in the newspaper on behalf of First World.
In late January 2009, Headley traveled to Pakistan and met separately to discuss the planning with Abdur Rehman and Lashkar Member A. In February 2009, Abdur Rehman allegedly took Headley to meet with Kashmiri in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. During the meeting, Kashmiri allegedly indicated that he had reviewed the surveillance videos made by Headley and suggested using a truck bomb in the operation. Kashmiri further indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that Lashkar’s participation was not necessary, the indictment alleges. Subsequently, in March 2009, Lashkar Member A advised Headley that Lashkar put the newspaper attack on hold because of pressure in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, according to the charges.
In May 2009, Headley and Abdur Rehman met again with Kashmiri in Waziristan and Kashmiri allegedly directed Headley to meet with his European contacts who could provide Headley with money, weapons, and manpower for the newspaper attack. In late July and early August 2009, Headley traveled from Chicago to various places in Europe, including Copenhagen, attempting to obtain assistance from Kashmiri’s contacts and, while there, made approximately 13 additional surveillance videos, according to the charges.
In September 2009, Headley and Rana allegedly spoke about reports that Kashmiri had been killed in a drone attack and the implications of his possible death for the plan to attack the newspaper. Later that month, Abdur Rehman, from Pakistan, allegedly called Headley to report that Kashmiri was not killed and was anxious to move forward with attacking the newspaper. In the late summer of 2009, Rana and Headley allegedly agreed that funds that had been provided to Rana could be used to fund Headley’s work in Denmark.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Headley was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, intending ultimately to travel to Pakistan to meet with and deliver the approximately 13 surveillance videos to Abdur Rehman and Kashmiri, the indictment alleges.
The charges identify Kashmiri as an influential leader of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), an organization that trained terrorists and executed attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian control and other areas. Kashmiri based his operations from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of western Pakistan, an area which served as a haven for terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. Kashmiri allegedly was in regular contact with al Qaeda and in particular with an al Qaeda leader, Mustafa Abu al Yazid, also known as “Sheik Said al Masri.”
According to the indictment, in June 2008, al Qaeda, through its media wing known as “As Sahab Media,” took credit for an attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and called for further attacks against Danish interests to avenge the publication of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed first published in the Jyllands-Posten in 2005. In August 2008, al Qaeda released a video through As Sahab Media calling for further attacks in retaliation for the publication of the cartoons, and Mustafa Abu al Yazid, among others, appeared in the video. The indictment alleges that in July 2009, Headley provided the al Qaeda video to Rana in Chicago.
The counts against Headley charging conspiracy to bomb public places in India that resulted in deaths and aiding and abetting the murders of U.S. nationals each carry a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death. All of the other counts against Headley carry a maximum of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot—against all four defendants—carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.
The other two material support counts against Rana, and the conspiracy to murder and maim people in Denmark against Kashmiri and Abdur Rehman, also carry a maximum of life in prison.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collins and Victoria J. Peters, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Grigg and Janet Hudson of the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.