Last Updated: Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:50 pm (KSA) 09:50 am (GMT)

Two charged by US in plot to attack Danish paper

The two men were arrested in Chicago (File)
The two men were arrested in Chicago (File)

U.S. authorities charged two men for plotting to attack a Danish newspaper whose cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed led to violent protests, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

U.S. authorities accused David Headley, a U.S. citizen, of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism for flying to Denmark earlier this year to identify potential targets and discussing his efforts with alleged conspirators in Pakistan.

He was arrested as he was about to leave Chicago on Oct. 3 for Pakistan, the agency said.

Also arrested on Oct. 18 was Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen who lives in Chicago, on a single count of conspiracy for helping Headley travel overseas and discussing potential targets with him, the Justice Department said.

If convicted, Headley faces up to life in prison, while Rana faces up to 15 years behind bars.

Links to Qaeda

Headley allegedly contacted conspirators abroad, including Ilyas Kashmiri, identified as "the operational chief of the Azad Kashmir section of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), a Pakistani-based terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda."

He also contacted a person identified as "Individual A" associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based radical Islamic group that fought Indian rule in divided Kashmir.

Starting in late 2008, Headley "corresponded extensively" with the foreign contacts regarding the "Mickey Mouse Project" and "the northern project" -- code-names for "one or more attacks at facilities and employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten," the Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in Sept. 2005.

The cartoons angered Muslims worldwide and sparked global protests in January and February 2006.

Demonstrators burned Danish flags in protests that culminated in February 2006 with the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in Damascus and Beirut and dozens of deaths in Nigeria, Libya and Pakistan.

Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, "allegedly identified and conducted surveillance of potential targets of a terrorist attack in Denmark on two separate trips to Denmark in January and July 2009, and reported and attempted to report on his efforts to other conspirators in Pakistan."

Rana in turn "allegedly helped arrange Headley's travels overseas and conceal their true nature and purpose to monitor potential terror targets overseas, and discussed potential targets for attack with Headley."

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