A Chicago man of Pakistani origin, with suspected links to HUJI chief Ilyas Kashmiri, was arrested on Friday on charges of providing material support to a terrorist organisation.
Raja Lahrasib Khan, a naturalised citizen of the US who worked as a taxi driver in Chicago is alleged to have discussed a plot to attack a stadium in the US and is to be produced in a court here today, officials said.
The investigation in the case was not related to the case of LeT operatives David Coleman Headly and his associate Tahawwur Hussain Rana, and there was "no imminent domestic danger," said a statement from FBI's Chicago Office.
Headley and Rana have been charged with plotting terror attacks in Denmark and Mumbai.
Khan, 56, was arrested this morning while working in downtown Chicago by Chicago FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
He was charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorism in a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Chicago, said Patrick J Fitzgerald, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of FBI.
According to a 35-page complaint, Khan, who claims to have known Ilyas Kashmiri for approximately 15 years, had learnt by at least 2008 that Kashmiri was linked to al Qaeda, was purportedly receiving orders from al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden.
"According to Khan, during his meeting or meetings with Kashmiri, among other things, Khan learned that Kashmiri wanted to train operatives to conduct attacks in the United States... and Kashmiri told Khan that he needed money, in any amount, to be able to purchase materials from the black market," it said.
The charges allege that on Nov 23, 2009, Khan sent a money transfer of approximately USD 950 from a currency exchange in North LaSalle Street in Chicago to Individual A, who was in either Mirpur or Bhimber, in Pakistan.
David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security said the arrest and charges are the result of an outstanding cooperative law enforcement and intelligence effort and "underscore the domestic and international aspects of the terror threat we face".
The complaint identifies Kashmiri as the leader in Kashmir of Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HUJI), an extremist group located in Pakistan and Kashmir with links to al Qaeda.
Kashmiri was in January 2010 indicted alongwith Rana and Headley for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to attack the facilities of a Danish newspaper.
Khan later spoke with Individual A by telephone and instructed him to give Rs 25,000 to "Lala," a nickname Khan uses to refer to Kashmiri.
Khan also told an undercover agent that he had met most recently in 2008 in Miran Shah in northwest Pakistan.
Earlier this month, the affidavit alleged, Khan and an associate had a discussion during which they appeared to talk about attacking a stadium in the US in "August". However, there are no allegations that Khan either knew Kashmiri's current whereabouts or had yet discussed his stadium plan with him.
On March 17, after agreeing to personally deliver to Kashmiri any funds that the undercover agent wanted to provide, Khan allegedly accepted USD 1,000 from the agent.
The complaint states that Khan accepted these funds after conversation with the undercover agent in which he confirmed that Kashmiri was working with al-Qaeda.
Khan, during the conversation, also assured that Kashmiri would use the undercover agent's funds to purchase weapons and added that he had provided the HUJI chief with money in the past, including in December 2009.
The arrested man also discussed the possibility of having his son transport the money from the US to England where Khan would rendezvous with his son, retrieve the money, and deliver it to Kashmiri in Pakistan.
According to the affidavit, government agents had on March 23 discovered that Khan's son possessed seven of the ten USD 100 bills that the undercover agent had given to Khan.
Each count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organisation carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a USD 2,50,000 fine. If convicted, the court is required to impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory US Sentencing Guidelines.
The investigation into the matter is being conducted by the Chicago FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. PTI