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Entries in Chicago (6)

Friday
May182012

Obama Ready for Pep Talk on Afghanistan During NATO Summit

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(NEW YORK) -- President Obama will take center stage at the NATO summit in Chicago Sunday by urging the alliance to resist deescalating its commitment in Afghanistan.

With the American public having grown weary of the 10-year conflict, leaders from other nations have also seen diminishing support for the war.

For instance, new French President Francois Hollande was elected partly on his promise to pull his forces out of Afghanistan faster than the planned 2014 timetable for withdrawal.

In two years, virtually all coalition forces will have exited the country, 13 years after the U.S.-led effort to destroy al Qaeda training camps and depose the Taliban regime in response to the 9/11 attacks.

While the meeting is expected to be cordial, Obama will likely get hit with hard questions from NATO members on how fast the pullout of military forces will be, how many troops to leave behind and how the financial burden of upkeeping Afghan national forces will be shared.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May172012

Iraq Vets Returning Medals at NATO Summit in Chicago

Khalid Mohammed-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A protest of Iraq war veterans at the NATO summit being held in Chicago this weekend is intended to send a strong message to Washington and the European alliance.

Some members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War plan to return their medals to NATO generals on Sunday, claiming they were given their honors for bravery or suffering for "a war based on lies and failed policies."

The group said on its blog the Global War on Terror "has killed hundreds of thousands, stripped the humanity of all involved, and drained our communities of trillions of dollars, diverting funds from schools, clinics, libraries, and other public goods."

Following the rally, the vets are expected to march to the convention center to give back their medals.  If they are unable to meet with the NATO generals, they said they would throw their medals at the building.

About 30 to 50 veterans are expected to participate in the protest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May112012

Upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago Will Focus on Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(NEW YORK) -- The NATO summit scheduled for May 20 and 21 in Chicago will be the first time that alliance members have gathered in the U.S. since 1999.

At the top of list of topics will be Afghanistan, according to Gen. Stephane Abrial of the French air force, who is a senior NATO commander.

President Obama was supposed to have signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the summit until Karzai insisted the ceremony take place in Kabul last week.

Even with that behind them, the war in Afghanistan and how NATO will conduct its operations before and after the planned withdrawal of coalition forces by 2014 will take center stage.

Abrial also told reporters Thursday that NATO will also discuss partnership capability, "smart defense" and other matters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Mumbai Terror Attack Trial: Headley Dodged FBI to Plot Denmark Attack

LORENZO TUGNOLI/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- David Headley, the Pakistani-American man who helped plan the Mumbai terrorist attacks, testified Thursday that although he was informed the FBI wanted meet with him in December 2008, he wanted to continue to prepare for an attack in Denmark.

Headley is the government's star witness at the trial of Tahawwur Rana, who is charged with providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the terrorist group behind the Mumbai attacks. Rana allegedly supported Headley's operational planning for the attacks by letting him use his immigration business as a front for Headley's time in Mumbai.

After the Mumbai attacks, Headley's cousin in Philadelphia informed him that the FBI wanted to speak with him. At the time, Headley said, he was in Pakistan.

"I didn't want to wait," Headley told the jury about wanting to press ahead with an attack on the Jyllands Posten newspaper.

Headley and terrorist groups targeted the newspaper for publishing cartoons that mocked the prophet Muhammad.

Although there was pressure on members of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the group behind the Mumbai attacks, Headley said he was not concerned the FBI wanted to speak to him.

"It didn't seem anything serious," Headley said during his cross-examination by defense attorneys about his connections with Rana and his handlers in Pakistan.

The attacks planned for Denmark were dubbed the "Mickey Mouse Project" by Headley for use in coded conversations.

During his visits to Denmark in early 2009, Headley allegedly used the cover of Rana's business to visit the newspaper's offices, where he expressed interest in buying an advertisement for the Immigrant Law Center. Headley made surveillance films of the newspaper's offices and surrounding areas.

Headley was arrested in October 2009, when he was leaving the United States to go to Pakistan to give his handlers the surveillance videos.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Defense Questions Mumbai Planner About Heroin Smuggling-DEA Work

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- After three days of being questioned by prosecutors, convicted terrorist David Headley was sharply questioned about his past as a convicted drug smuggler, work as a DEA informant and his own testimony in the ongoing terrorism trial in Chicago.
 
Headley is the government's star witness at the trial of Tahawwur Rana, who is charged with providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the terrorist group behind the Mumbai attacks. Rana allegedly supported Headley's operational planning for the attacks by letting him use his immigration business as a front during Headley's time in Mumbai.
 
Under cross-examination Rana’s defense attorney Charles Swift immediately focused on Headley’s relationship with Rana, stretching back to their school years in Pakistan, where Headley grew up.  While Rana was at the top of his class, Headley said he was a “very bad” student and that Rana helped him with his school work.
 
The defense attorney focused on Headley and his drug use and eventual path to becoming a drug smuggler, contrasting it with Rana, who was studying in medical school to be a doctor.
 
Swift told the jury, “He was your friend, but he didn’t do what you were doing.”
 
Headley testified he took Rana to the tribal areas in Pakistan in 1984 so he could use him as a cover while Headley picked up a stash of heroin. Rana at the time was serving in the military and so their car was unlikely to be searched.
 
Headley was arrested two times for drug offenses and was eventually incarcerated. He testified that in the late 1990s, Rana posted bail for him by putting his house up for the bond. Shortly after he was released, Headley became an informant for the DEA. He testified that he became interested in Lashkar while he was working for the DEA in Pakistan. 

Swift highlighted that Headley never told the counter-narcotics agents about his links to the group.
 
The defense also highlighted complaints made against Headley to the FBI because of his extremist views after the 9/11 attacks but noted that Headley cited his work for the DEA to avoid any trouble or scrutiny.

Headley faces life in prison for pleading guilty to his role in the Indian attacks. Headley's sentencing is being postponed until the government concludes they have obtained his full cooperation.
 
The defense is expected to question Headley for another full day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Key Mumbai Terror Plot Planner Testifies at Chicago Trial

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- One of the key planners behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks testified Monday that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the terrorist group accused of carrying out the coordinated shootings and bombings in India, has connections within Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency.

David Headley took the witness stand Monday as the government's first witness in the Chicago terrorism trial of businessman Tahawwur Rana, 50, who has been charged with three counts of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba by assisting Headley.

Headley, who pleaded guilty last year to terrorism charges, conducted surveillance and casing videos for the attackers and 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, striking luxury hotels, the train station, restaurants and a Jewish center.

Headley went to Pakistan as a U.S. government informant but later linked up with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group after he arrived.

Headley testified that in 2004, after meeting with top leaders in the group, he proposed that Lashkar sue the United States government to challenge its designation as a terrorist organization. Top leaders in the group told Headley they would need to consult with the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency if they were to try to sue the United States.

Headley's testimony continued Monday afternoon. He also was expected to discuss his plans to open an office in Mumbai to conduct casing work. His testimony could last several days, according to Justice Department officials. The trial itself is expected to last four to five weeks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio