Pakistani-Canadian Faces A Second Charge

Pakistani-Canadian faces a second charge
U.S. prosecutors amend complaint against Tahawar Hussain Rana, accused in newspaper plot

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 12:00AM EDT
Last updated on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 3:03AM EDT

U.S. prosecutors are throwing the book at a Pakistani-Canadian accused of participating in an international terrorism conspiracy to murder Danish journalists who published irreverent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

One day after announcing charges in the plot, prosecutors amended their complaint against Tahawar Hussain Rana, 48, to add a second count of providing material support to terrorism.

A federal court heard arguments this morning that Dr. Rana must remain jailed; that he is a major flight risk now that he could spend up to 45 years in prison.

The crux of the allegation remains that Dr. Rana used his Chicago immigration business to provide cover for an associate who travelled to Denmark to scout out targets. David Headley, a Pakistani-American who recently Westernized his name, is accused of plotting to murder employees of a Danish newspaper he visited in January and July.

During the visits he claimed to be an employee of Dr. Rana's Chicago-based immigration consultancy, First World Immigration Services, and told the newspaper he was looking to place an advertisement.

But the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation alleges it has intercepted communications showing that Mr. Headley, Dr. Rana, and Pakistani terrorists were plotting together to attack the newspaper, in response to its 2005 decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, including one with a bomb in his turban.

“The defendant is facing the rest of his life in prison,” said prosecutor Dan Collins. He added that Dr. Rana's businesses could give him access to money and travel documents if he decided to flee.

“He's not a U.S. citizen, he's a Canadian citizen,” he added, pointing out that Dr. Rana still owns a stake in a family home north of the border.

Defence Attorney Patrick Blegen countered that his client has “an unblemished record of being a legitimate businessman” and that “he doesn't run a false document organization”

He said Dr. Rana was likely “duped” by Mr. Headley. He added that the FBI seems to have no evidence directly tying Dr. Rana to the Denmark scheme.

He said his client operated legally in Chicago as an entrepreneur for the past 15 years. Many relatives are prepared to post bond, Mr. Blegen added, including family members in Canada.

A bearded and bespectacled Dr. Rana wore an orange jumpsuit as he listened to the arguments. He said nothing, except to ask his lawyer to allow a surgeon to see him – the chronic effects of an old head and neck injury have left him in great pain.

A judge said Dr. Rana would have to make do with a visit from a regular doctor. A second bail hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

He is housed on the 11th floor of a federal prison and seeking access to the prison's law library.