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U.S. arrests in cartoon terrorism plans

Two men have been arrested in Chicago in connection with plans for a terrorist attack against Jyllands-Posten.

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Two men – a 49-year-old U.S. national and a 48-year-old Canadian national - are under arrest in Chicago on charges of preparing a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and other targets in Denmark. Jyllands-Posten was the newspaper which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Those charged are reported to be David Coleman Headley, 49, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48. The Chicago Tribune says that Headley is an American citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani. Headley is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States and another count of conspiracy to provide material support to the conspiracy.

Rana, who is Canadian, is charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign conspiracy involving Headley and three other individuals.

DOCUMENTATION: See the FBI affidavit (external link)

Mouse Project
“At the beginning of 2008, the two suspects had intense correspondence about what they called the Mickey Mouse Project ‘mmp’ and ‘the northern project,” the American authorities write.

According to the Department of Justice, the two were preparing one or several attacks against Jyllands-Posten buildings and employees.

The Danish Intelligence and Security Service (PET) says that the two men were arrested in Chicago on October 3rd and 18th. The Chicago Tribune says that Headley was detained at the O’Hare International Airport on October 3rd and has allegedly admitted to receiving training from Lashkar-e-Taiba and is reported to have acknowledged that the plan called for either an attack on Jyllands-Postens building or the killing of the newspaper’s cultural editor and the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Rana, who runs several companies including a meat-processing plant specialising in Islamic foods, was arrested at his home on October 18.

“The Service sees this case as being very serious. One of those arrested has an extensive network among leading militant extremists in Pakistan who not only want to attack Denmark but have also shown previously that they are capable of ruthless terrorist attacks,” PET Chief Jakob Scharf says in a news release.

In Copenhagen
According to PET, one of those arrested has been to Denmark twice this year to reconnoitre and select targets. In July this year, he was in Copenhagen taking video footage in the capital.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, Headley reported to Ilyas Kashmiri, an operational chief in a Pakistani-based organization known as Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, which has links to al-Qaida.

Those arrested are said by PET to have been in close contact with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda and Harakat-ul-Jihad Islami terrorist organisations in connection with planning for the attack.

“The (two men) arrested have been closely monitored by the American authorities. Similarly, PET has undertaken extensive investigations. PET and the FBI feel that the arrests and discovery of the terrorist plans have reduced the risk of the attack. PET and the American authorities however are continuing their intensive investigations to counter the threat,” Scharf says.

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