Chicago court documents reveal terrorists' plans

July 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

That is one of the headlines from court records that were released Wednesday from the recent terrorism conviction of Chicago travel agent Tahawwur Rana.

It was just a week ago that the latest coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Mumbai, killing and injuring dozens of people. Now, court records unsealed in Chicago make it clear that there were serious discussions between terrorist operatives in Chicago and in South Asia to re-strike India, a plot that was taking shape two years ago.

The first Mumbai massacre in November of 2008 was carried out following extensive surveillance by Chicagoan David Coleman Headley, a radical Islamist who had been recruited by Pakistani terrorist leaders.

After Headley and his accomplice, Rana, were arrested and charged in that Mumbai plot, Headley decided to cooperate with prosecutors and save himself from the death penalty. Last month, Rana was convicted, largely on days of Headley testimony and undercover FBI tapes.

Wednesday afternoon, 26 trial documents that had been kept secret -- some due to national security concerns -- were released. While most are inconsequential, one reveals that Pakistani terrorist leaders were using Headley to assist in planning a new attack on India.

The records reveal numerous conversations between Headley in Chicago and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, the former Pakistani military officer known as "Pasha" who became Headley's handler with the Pakistani terror group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LET.

Authorities believe it was an LET splinter group, the Indian Mujahedeen, that was responsible for the latest attack on several locations in Mumbai a week ago, coordinated bombings on public sites that killed 20 and wounded more than 130.

Dozens of pages released by the court Wednesday were blackened, presumably redacted to prevent national security information from getting out -- or because there are references to other federal terror investigations.

Thirty-nine other court files remain under complete seal in Chicago.

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