Chicago suspects linked to Mumbai attacks
November 18, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- In a terrorism case that appears to be growing by the day, a judge has granted Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald two additional months so that federal agents can sort through computer files and intercepted phone conversations of Tahawwur Hussain Rana and David Headley.
Rana and Headley are being held in Chicago on charges that they plotted to attack a Danish newspaper that had printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. But their suspected roles in a wider terror conspiracy is part of an international investigation stretching from Illinois to India.
Authorities now believe that both men were involved behind-the-scenes in last November's attack on targets in Mumbai that left 165 people dead, according to reports and sources in India and the U.S.
Indian police suspect that Headley conducted reconnaissance missions to record details of the Mumbai targets. Among the 24 sites he allegedly scouted were the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident hotels. Hotel records show Headley, a Chicago native, stayed in both hotels in 2007, authorities have told investigative reporters for the Times of India. The two hotels were hit by terrorists on Nov. 26, 2008.
The U.S. government's motion filed in Chicago for additional time to investigate Rana and Headley cites "further investigation regarding the full scope of the two defendants' activities is ongoing and includes gaining assistance from foreign authorities." The motion doesn't provide details of a wider conspiracy, although some investigative material attached to the filing was sealed and not publicly available.
According to a government source quoted in the Times of India, "Evidence is slowly getting established that Headley and Rana were part of the larger conspiracy behind Mumbai attacks. They were in touch with the same people who were giving directions to Kasab and other terrorists," who allegedly killed 165 people in the attacks nearly one year ago.
There is a paper trail of receipts and passport records that show Messrs. Rana and Headley were in Pakistan during the Mumbai attacks and then left after the carnage, according to reports. Authorities are said to be comparing voice samples of the Chicago suspects with conversations intercepted from satellite and cellular telephone calls leading up to the deadly attacks.
A hearing to determine whether federal authorities in Chicago may continue to hold Mr. Rana without bond has been scheduled for 1pm Thursday in the courtroom of Judge Nan R. Nolan.
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