Two Chicago Muslim Men Charged in Terror Plot

Another terror plot, this time planned against a newspaper in Denmark but originating in the U.S.

Two Chicago men are charged with planning terrorist acts against overseas targets, including a Danish newspaper that sparked riots in the Muslim world when it published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, prosecutors said Tuesday.

David Coleman Headley, 49, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, were charged in separate complaints filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Headley told FBI agents that the initial plan called for an attack against the newspaper building in Copenhagen, but he later proposed just killing the paper’s cartoonist and former cultural editor, according to an FBI affidavit released Tuesday.

The charges were unsealed nine days after the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted a massive raid on an Islamic butcher shop in the tiny rural town of Kinsman, Ill., that left residents stunned. The halal butcher is one of a few businesses owned by Rana.

Prosecutors say Headley traveled to Denmark twice this year to identify potential targets for a terrorist attack, and that Rana helped arrange Headley’s travel, concealing the true nature of his trips.

Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, is charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States, and could face life in prison if convicted.

He and Rana are both charged with plotting to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy, a charge that could net Rana 15 years in prison. Headley is a U.S. citizen; Rana is a native of Pakistan and a citizen of Canada, though he resides primarily in Chicago.

Headley was arrested Oct. 3 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on his way to Pakistan — where federal officials charge he was planning to meet with representatives of the Pakistan-based terrorist groups Lakshar-e-Taiba and Harakat ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI), a group tied to Al Qaeda.

He told FBI agents following his arrest that he received training from Lakshar-e-Taiba while in Pakistan and had worked with Ilyas Kashmiri, a local chief of HUJI.

On Oct. 18, two weeks after Headley’s arrest, the Joint Terrorism Task Force searched four locations in Illinois and arrested Rana at his home in Chicago. The JTTF also searched Headley’s home and Rana’s immigration business in Chicago, as well as the halal butcher operation Rana owns in Kinsman.

Prosecutors charge that Headley has “corresponded extensively” in coded communications with Pakistani terrorists regarding what he called the “Mickey Mouse Project” — planned attacks on the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, and its employees.

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