Chicago man accused in terror plot denied bond

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2009 5:42 PM

A federal judge on Tuesday declined to release on bond a Chicago man accused of planning to attack a Danish newspaper and of knowing beforehand about last year's terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan said 48-year-old businessman Tahawwur Rana has the means and know-how to flee the country to avoid a possible 30-year prison term if released pending a trial.

"He has substantial financial resources," she said.

Rana, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a gray beard, remained impassive at the news he would remain in jail.

Rana is charged with providing material support to terrorists in a planned attack on the Danish newspaper. The paper, Jyllands-Posten, published a dozen cartoons in 2005 that depicted the Prophet Muhammad and set off protests in the Muslim world.

Prosecutors say Rana, who owns a number of businesses including an immigration service and a goat farm, made travel arrangements for an alleged coconspirator, David Coleman Headley, as he moved around the world to plan the Denmark attack.

In a court filing Monday, prosecutors alleged that Rana was in Mumbai days before the Nov. 26 attack by members of a Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. They said Rana was told about the plan to attack the city when he flew from India to the Persian Gulf city state of Dubai.

Defense attorney Patrick Blegen attacked the government's conclusion that Rana was briefed in advance about the Mumbai attack, saying it was based among other things on preliminary transcripts of Rana's interrogation following his arrest and poor quality recordings made by federal investigators.

"The unintelligibles _ there are more of them than the intelligibles," he said. He said the government wouldn't vouch for the accuracy of the transcripts.

Blegen acknowledged that Rana was in the Indian city days before the attacks, but said Rana had brought his wife along, and that he wouldn't have put her in harm's way if he had known an attack was pending.

"They're saying he knew about some terrorist plan and took his wife along on some sort of jaunt," Blegen said. "I say that's absurd."

He said the government took statements made by Rana after his arrest out of context. He said prosecutors' allegation that Rana knew about the Mumbai attack was based on vague statements Rana made after his arrest.

"All he said to the agents was that there are bad things happening all over the place all the time," Blegen said.

Rana, a Canadian national who once served in the Pakistani military, is not charged in connection to the Mumbai attacks.

Headley, the 49-year-old son of an American mother and Pakistani father, is charged in both the Danish and Mumbai cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Collins said the government is trying to enhance a recording of a conversation between Rana and Headley, but that enough of it is intelligible to understand them clearly to be talking about Mumbai.

"There's no question what they are talking about," Collins said.

Also charged separately with planning the attack in Denmark is a former Pakistani military man, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed.