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Entries in Mumbai (4)

Friday
Jun102011

Jury Convicts Chicago Businessman in Plot to Bomb Danish Newspaper

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago jury found a local businessman guilty Thursday of providing material support to the banned Pakistan militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as scheming to bomb a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammad, which is considered sacrilegious in the Muslim world.

However, Tahawwur Rana was acquitted of the most serious charge of helping to plot the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India that left 166 people dead, including nine of 10 attackers believed to have been recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba.

During the trial, lawyers for Rana, a 50-year-old born in Pakistan who also has Canadian citizenship, insisted their client was fooled by a friend, David Coleman Headley, into using Rana's company as a cover for his scouting missions in Denmark.

Headley became a witness for the prosecution after admitting guilt to 12 charges related to the Mumbai attacks.  The plot to bomb the newspaper offices of Jyllands-Posten in Copehagen was abandoned because of stepped up security after the Mumbai incident and a lack of funds and manpower.

Rana is expected to receive sentences of up to 15 years on each count but his lawyers have already announced they will appeal the verdicts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Mumbai Terror Trial Gets Underway in Chicago

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago terrorism trial set to begin on Monday, of Pakistani-Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, is going to reveal information that could cause serious diplomatic heartburn between the United States, Pakistan, and India.

The trial could also renew calls in Congress to cut foreign aid to Pakistan; there may be testimony that highlights that Pakistan's intelligence service had a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 164 dead, including six Americans.

Rana has been charged with three counts of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group, assisting Chicago resident David Headley, the operational planner of the Mumbai attacks.  Headley, who pleaded guilty last year to terrorism charges, conducted surveillance for the attackers, used a GPS to program in key location markers for the Mumbai terrorists as they moved to their targets and ravaged the city for three days in November 2008.  They struck luxury hotels, the train station, restaurants and a Jewish center.

Rana, who owned and oversaw the First World Immigration Services in Chicago and other cities, allegedly allowed Headley to use his business as a cover.  The indictment filed against Rana and other conspirators in the case alleged that in June 2006 Headley "advised…[Rana] of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India and obtained Rana's approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, India as a cover for these activities."

Last month a superseding indictment revealed the names of additional plotters in the case: Sajid Mir (Headley's handler), Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, and a man known only as "Major Iqbal" who is believed to be in either the ISI or Pakistani military.

Court watchers, journalists and the victims of the Mumbai attacks hope to learn more about the mysterious Major Iqbal and who he may be.  Several of the U.S. family members who lost their loved ones in the attacks have sued the Pakistani government and the ISI.

According to court records in the civil lawsuit, the attorneys representing the families attempted to serve subpoenas to Major Iqbal and members of the ISI to find out information about the attacks.  Several of the subpoenas were returned unopened but the subpoena for Major Iqbal, which was delivered to a location in Pakistan, was returned to the New York attorneys and had been opened.

A jury of eight women and four men will be hearing extensive testimony in a trial that is expected to last four to five weeks.  The judge has ordered that the jury remain anonymous given the security concerns and nature of a high profile terrorism trial. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

Pentagon Dismisses Reports of 34 Warships for Obama Trip Security

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon did not mince words in dismissing as “absolutely absurd” and “comical” media reports from Indian news outlets that the U.S. Navy was sending 34 warships off the coast of Mumbai as part of the security preparations for President Obama’s upcoming trip to India. 

The reports appeared in Indian media outlets, such as the Press Trust of India and the television network NDTV. The Press Trust of India is that country’s largest news agency.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters he was making an exception to the practice of not discussing Presidential security details in order to dismiss the reports.

“I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy -- some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier -- in support of the president's trip to Asia,” said Morrell at Thursday's Pentagon briefing. “That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done."

He acknowledged that a presidential trip requiring security needs “should not come as a surprise to anyone” and that the Defense Department “does play a role in support of presidential missions.” He said it was customary to not discuss such security requests, but “I made an exception in batting down this absurd notion of there being 34 ships, or more than 10 percent of the Navy, deployed in support of this trip. That is most certainly not the case.”

The Indian media reports also say security for the presidential trip will cost $200 million a day.  Morrell “there's been a lot of creative writing that's been done on this trip over the last few days. I've seen other reports with some astronomical figures in terms of what it costs to take these trips. I don't know the cost. We don't speak to the cost.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was blunt in his characterization of the cost reports, saying “this trip doesn't cost $200 million a day.”  Gibbs would only say the costs were comparable to the costs incurred by Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton to the region.

A Navy spokesman confirmed that given the size of the Navy fleet, 34 warships tasked to security for the president would constitute 11.8 percent of the fleet.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct152010

NYPD Preps For Mumbai-Style Attack

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As U.S. officials proclaim an alleged European terror plot still active, New York City police conducted a drill Thursday that simulated a Mumbai-style attack on civilians on a crowded street in Manhattan's financial district.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly addressed the media before the drill, which began with two large explosions. "This is what we do," he explained. "We think the unthinkable." The drill simulated multiple bombs and shooters, including a bomb under a vehicle, and police responded with helicopters, dogs, automatic weapons and an armored car.

Earlier Thursday, the State Department's counterterror chief told reports in London that the travel alert issued last week that advised travelers in Europe to be careful was still in effect. "We don't view the conditions as warranting us rescinding the alert," said Daniel Benjamin. The alert was issued Oct. 3, when intelligence led authorities to believe a Mumbai-style assault on so-called "soft" civilian targets might be imminent in Europe.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai assault that claimed 175 lives, the NYPD revised its tactics to deal with a terrorist commando assault. During Thursday's drill in the Bronx, heavily armed Emergency Service Unit officers were backed by officers from the Organized Crime Control Bureau trained to respond to such an attack. The OCCB officers are intended to beef up the NYPD response and prevent multiple simultaneous attacks from overwhelming the responding force.

The drill simulated an attack in lower Manhattan's financial district, near Wall Street and Ground Zero, on a mock block that contained a department store, a hotel and a federal regulatory agency. European authorities view these as the kind of "soft" and financial targets that might be attacked in a commando-style assault. Multiple civilians and officers were "shot" during the drill.

"We've got some info from one of the perps that the Empire State Building might be next," one police radio crackled during the drill.

As it did, helmeted cops with M4 rifles and M14 assault rifles began stalking the street hunting snipers and assailants.

"What we try to do is stress the system," Kelly explained, who said the exercise was the ninth since Mumbai. Footage of the drill will be featured on Friday's episode of "Brian Ross Investigates," which can be seen on ABC News Now or on the Web.

The State Department issued its highly unusual travel advisory  on Oct. 3, to "alert U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. ... Current information suggests that al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks."

While the advisory does not name potential targets, it says "U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure." It recommends that U.S. citizens "take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings" and register their travel plans on the State Department's travel registration website.

The alert was issued because of strong concerns that terrorist teams in Europe have selected their targets and are now ready to strike at airports and tourist attractions, according to multiple law enforcement and intelligence sources.

European and U.S. authorities first learned of the plot over the summer following the capture of Ahmed Siddiqui, a suspected German terrorist who had been training in Pakistan.

Recent law enforcement operations within the United States have helped to flush out chatter that added to earlier concerns about the U.S. homeland as a possible additional target of the attacks.

Known targets are believed to include England, France and Germany. Additional European countries, including Italy and Belgium, are also targets, multiple sources say.

Siddiqui's claims about a multi-city plot against Europe have been bolstered by other "highly reliable" sources of information, U.S. and German intelligence officials said Thursday.

Siddiqui told American interrogators at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan that Osama bin Laden had personally blessed the plan, officials said.

Since then, US and German officials said, Siddiqui's claims have been verified by a second captured German terror recruit and "other sources" that officials were reluctant to describe in detail for fear of compromising law enforcement operations.

"There are several different sources, all confirming that there are plots afoot by al-Qaeda central, that is to say the Osama bin Laden organization in Pakistan, to do attacks in Europe," said Dick Clarke, a former White House national security official and now an ABC News consultant. "Now they don't have anything that points to the United States yet, but if there were to be simultaneous attacks in Europe, it's at least possible there would be a simultaneous attack in the United States as well."

German intelligence officials told ABCNews.com that about 45 other "potentially dangerous" individuals in Germany are being tracked as officials seek to prevent an attack from taking place.

Siddiqui worked as a cleaner at the Hamburg airport and was a "devout member" of the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, where Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers gathered prior to their attack.

The mosque was closed after Siddiqui's arrest, based on the information he provided. Officials told ABC News that Siddiqui had been under surveillance since 1997 and left the country for Pakistan in 2009.

Officials in Germany and the United States said they still did not have a specific date of the timing of the plot, and U.S. officials say they believe the plot's "trigger date" may have been delayed because of the media coverage and government travel alerts.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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