March 26th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Chicago man charged with supporting al Qaeda

A Chicago, Illinois, man was charged Friday with providing material support to al Qaeda by attempting to send the terrorist group funds overseas, the Department of Justice said.

The man, Raja Lahrasib Khan, also allegedly discussed attacking a stadium in the United States this summer, officials said, though they stressed that there is no imminent domestic danger.

Khan, a Chicago taxi driver who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was arrested by FBI officials Friday morning.

"While there was no imminent danger in the Chicago area or elsewhere, these charges ... affirm that law enforcement must remain constantly vigilant to guard against domestic support of foreign terrorist organizations," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in announcing the charges Friday.

Khan, 56, was charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorism, each carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The charges were filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago and unsealed Friday following Khan's arrest.

The investigation into Khan is continuing, officials said Friday.

Khan appeared in federal court in Chicago on Friday afternoon but won't enter a plea until a later arraignment hearing, according to Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago. Khan is being represented by the federal public defender program, Samborn said.

The complaint against Khan alleges that he attempted to transfer funds to Ilyas Kashmiri, an alleged terrorist leader who tried to help organize an attack against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, according to U.S. officials.

Kashmiri is an alleged leader of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, a group the U.S. Justice Department said has "trained terrorists [and] executed attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian control."

Kashmiri also is alleged to have links with al Qaeda.

Earlier this month, a U.S.- born Chicago man who officials say had ties to Kashmiri pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges. Authorities say that man, David Headley, had planned the attack on a Danish newspaper in coordination with Kashmiri. The attack was never carried out.

The investigation leading to Khan's arrest is unrelated to the investigation that resulted in the charges against Headley and another Chicagoan, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is also alleged to have participated in the Denmark plot.

According to the criminal complaint against Khan, he claims to have known Ilyas Kashmiri for approximately 15 years.

The complaint says Khan has discussed meeting Kashmiri and hearing about his desire to train operatives to conduct attacks in the United States. Khan has said Kashmiri needed money to purchase materials from the "black market," according to the complaint.

The affidavit says Khan transferred roughly $950 last November to a contact in Pakistan, then instructed the contact to deliver some of the money to Kashmiri, using a nickname for him.

Khan told an undercover FBI agent that he had met Kashmiri most recently in 2008 in northwest Pakistan, the complaint says.

On March 17, after agreeing to personally deliver to Kashmiri any funds the undercover agent wanted to send, Khan accepted $1,000 from the agent, according to the complaint.

The affidavit says Khan and the undercover agent had discussed the possibility of having Khan's son transport the money from the United States to England, where Khan would meet his son, retrieve the money, and deliver it to Kashmiri in Pakistan.

On March 23, government agents at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport came into contact with Khan's son and discovered he had seven of the ten $100 bills that the undercover agent had given to Khan, according to the affidavit.

Also in March, Khan and an associate appeared to discuss bombing a stadium in the United States in August, according to the complaint. Khan said that bags with remote controlled bombs could be placed in various locations, and then "boom, boom, boom, boom," federal officials said.

Khan said that he would ask Kashmiri to teach him how to conduct such an attack, the complaint alleges.

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Filed under: National security
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Billy Grogan

    I'm a military member for over 20 years now. I think we are wasting our hard erarned tax dollars on people who are trying to destroy our country. KILL THEM ALL I SAY.

    March 28, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Abj

    Someone warn that america should be careful that terrorist groups would stir up americans to fight against there nation. This whole thing is becoming reality. someone also said "this is what visa lottery and diversity program get us" and was blasted by some other people that america is for all and that the real natives are indians and so everyone should leave. But how do we know which immigrant is/will become a terrorist? imagine, a 56yr old man. Maybe america should review its immigration policy. God give america the wisdom to handle this.

    March 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DavidNegev

    Acts of terror, whether faith-driven or other, are acts of extreme aggression used by tyrannical regimes, groups or individuals, directed deliberately against helpless civilians, in order to shape or alter someone's mind/opinion by imposing a combination of shock, fear and blame. This is what terrorists are doing, often successfully. While many civilians who experience terror will choose resistance and self-defense, some try to 'understand' the terrorists’ motivations and goals, even sympathizing with the terrorists’ cause. In these situations, this what drives terrorists to feel victorious and continue carrying out acts of terror.
    Terror is an extreme anti-democratic, anti freedom of thought and speech act . Before accepting acts of terror as justified for any reason, each person who lives in a democratic society whose civilians are under terror threats should ask themselves if they prefer to develop opinions and make decisions from fear or from freedom.

    March 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DavidNegev

    Acts of terror, whether faith-driven or other, are acts of aggression directed deliberately against helpless civilians, in order to shape or alter someone's mind/opinion by imposing a combination of shock, fear and blame. This is what terrorists are doing, often successfully. While many civilians who experience terror will choose resistance and self-defense, some try to 'understand' the terrorists’ motivations and goals, even sympathizing with the terrorists’ cause. This what drives terrorists to feel victorious and continue carrying out acts of terror.
    Terror is actually an extreme anti-democratic, anti freedom of thought and speech act . Before accepting acts of terror as justified for any reason, each person who lives in a democratic society whose civilians are under terror threats should ask themselves if they prefer to develop opinions and make decisions from fear or from freedom.

    March 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joshua

    OK people please wake up we are at war with radical Islam. This war will not end untill every person in the US has coverted to Islam. Please let your hate for the Government go long enough for you to open your eyes and see what we are faceing. They know our laws and they know that they will be protected by groups such as the ALCU. Everyone in America is considered at soldier in this war there are no innocents. wake up before its too late.

    March 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
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