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. Rich

    Maurizio: The issue is that while these methods can help thwart attack, they also reduce liberty and freedom, the cornerstones of our society. If we become a police state, we have sacrificed the heart of this country. I think the more terrorists alter our behavior, in a sense, the more they have won in their struggle against us.

    So, it's a matter of striking a balance rather than diving in feet first to extreme responses.

    March 27, 2010 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Rod

    We owe terrorists and their supporters nothing less than jail or ejection form the US. It's time for ZERO tolerance for this. If there are Muslim leaders or citizens here who dislike America, let them go where the foul winds of Islamic oppression blow, where poverty and ignorance flourish, where no rights or freedom exist.

    March 27, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. T

    When are we going to wake up and pay more attention to internal threats. Off with the gloves. We must be vigilant in intense background research before allowing entry. How can a religion believing in a God hate and want to kill so much?

    March 27, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wake up!!!

    Over game plan and mind set should change!!! we supported taliban to revolt against russia and provided them with weapons ...which they ultimately used against US war!!!!...now we are supporting pakistan with billions and billions of financial AID, hoping that they will assist us fighting against terror...and eventually they will use our money against US....It's time for US admistration to realize the truth and educate people that WAR against terror is not WAR against ISLAM and they should gather support from muslim community with in USA.... Supporting pakistan with weapons or dollars is of no use as long as they are uneducated and fall to evil prey....

    March 27, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    This is why we need to profile these scumbags. Immediate execution. Never forget 911 and innocent people dying.

    March 27, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rukuruku

    Agree with all comments, but when are we going to find that big bandit hiding in lawless province in Pakistan? Instead we arrest janitors, cabbies, anmd low end pickpocketers rather than going after big bandits? are they big campaign donors thats way we let bandits go free in Paki-Afghjan border and arrest samll guys?

    Blah, blah blah blah

    March 27, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sunil Gupta

    Never understand why these people stay in America if they hate it so much Go home an enjoy your corrupt backwards nations and leave the rest of us alone.

    March 27, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. tommy vee

    Benjamin Franklin once said "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"

    Do you think Benjamin and the other founding fathers may have had different views if they witnessed people jumping out of a 110 story burning building to their deaths? Please stop this nonsense!

    March 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RK

    Benjamin Franklin once said "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"

    Do you think Benjamin and the other founding fathers may have had different views if they witnessed people jumping out of a 110 story burning building to their deaths? Please stop this nonsense!
    Posted by: tommy vee

    Re: the above post- do you think the founding fathers and the people who formed the USA didn't sacrifice including loss of life? Washington in his farewell address cautioned the new country against foreign entanglements and intrusion- We are in a world where the USA has a role in everything. I say leave the Middle east and concentrate on eliminating our need for oil..............................

    March 27, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rich

    Tommy, far more people died horrible deaths in the American Revolution than did in 9/11. I think it's safe to say Benjamin Franklin understood the concept of death and how it impacts a nation.

    March 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. susan clarke

    You people are the biggest hypocrrits of all. "Mauriisio" says he "cannot believe there are those opposed to wiretapping". Well, wake-up all of you who so vehemently disliked President George Bush – HE was for wire-tapping and other tactics which PROTECTED our country! Of course the ACLU wants everyone to "play nice". The enemy has no intention of "playing nice".

    March 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. shah

    I'm a proud American Muslim and I love USA. That person is setting up a bad example of Muslims and people of Pakistan. I think he should be executed. All of you saying 'Muslims does not like America is totaly NOT TRUE. What about UNIBOMBER he was a not a Muslim. I think people like Jim are the route cause, they are the one who start discriminations amongs reglions please beaware of them ! I love all humans beings i don't discriminate by religion.

    March 28, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. princess

    wht happened to america being a free country

    March 28, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ramgopalsina

    it sounds like there are no facts but mere hearsay, he could be boosting rather than giving facts. Like his name suggests "my name is Khan and am not a terrorist Mr President". Putting fear into the hearts of the muslims and no rule of law when it comes to dealing with Muslims. Shame on you America, (Lala means older brother and this man has an older brother in Kashmir) What stupid evidnece. Double standards in America

    March 28, 2010 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. E. Elliott

    My question, who does the Government use some charge other than treason?

    March 28, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
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