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Chicago: Pakistan-origin cabbie pleads guilty in terror case

February 07, 2012 10:31 IST

A Pakistan-born Chicago cab driver, charged with sending money to Al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri, has pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist outfit.

Raja Lahrasib Khan was arrested in March 2010 and charged with two counts of attempting to provide material support to terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri, who is believed to have been killed in a United States predator attack in June last year in Pakistan.

Under a plea deal, prosecutors have dropped the other count against 58-year-old Khan, a naturalised US citizen.

Khan, originally from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

His plea agreement calls for an agreed sentence of between five and eight years in prison, and it requires Khan to cooperate with the government in any matter in which he is called upon to assist through the termination of his sentence and any period of supervised release.

The guilty plea was announced by Patrick J Fitzgerald, US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Khan, who immigrated to the US in the late 1970s, admitted he met with Kashmiri in Pakistan in the early to mid-2000s and again in 2008. At the time of the second meeting, Khan knew or had reason to believe that Kashmiri was working with Al Qaeda.

During their 2008 meeting, Kashmiri told Khan that Osama bin Laden was alive, healthy, and giving orders, and Khan gave Kashmiri approximately 20,000 Pakistani rupees (approximately $200 to $250), which he intended Kashmiri to use to support attacks against India, the US Attorney's Office said in a statement.

On November 23, 2009, Khan sent approximately $930 from Chicago to an individual in Pakistan, via Western Union, and then directed the individual by phone to give Kashmiri approximately $300. Although Khan intended the funds to be used by Kashmiri to support attacks against India, he was also aware that Kashmiri was working with the Al Qaeda.

In February and March 2010, Khan participated in several meetings with an undercover law enforcement agent who posed as someone interested in sending money to Kashmiri to purchase weapons and ammunition, but only if Kashmiri was working with the Al Qaeda, as well as sending individuals into Pakistan to receive military-style training so they could conduct attacks against US forces and interests.

On March 17, 2010, the undercover agent provided Khan with $1,000, which Khan agreed to provide to Kashmiri. Khan then gave the funds to his son, who was travelling from the US to Britain, intending to later retrieve the money from his son in the UK and subsequently provide it to Kashmiri in Pakistan.

On March 23, 2010, Khan's son arrived at an airport in the UK and a search by UK law enforcement officials yielded seven of the 10 $100 bills that the undercover agent had provided to Khan.

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