Pakistani cab driver with terror links to remain behind bars


Chicago : A Pakistani American taxi driver charged with trying to send money to a Pakistani terrorist leader with links to Al Qaeda will remain behind bars until a formal hearing on April 7.

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Raja Lahrasib Khan, 56, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Friday, has claimed he had ties to Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami chief Ilyas Kashmiri, who is charged in a separate terrorism case with Pakistani-American Mumbai terror suspect David Coleman Headley.

The April 7 preliminary hearing where the government must reveal more of its evidence against Khan will be scratched, if a grand jury indicts him in the meantime providing enough probable cause for the case to move forward.

“The complaint that’s been filed is an incredibly one-sided document,” said Khan’s attorney, Thomas A. Durkin. Some of the talk involving Al Qaeda “seems to come from the undercover agent’s mouth,” he said.

Durkin has represented some detainees held in Guantanamo Bay as also Ramzi Bin Alshibh accused of masterminding the Sep 1, 2001 terror attacks on US. But Durkin said Tuesday he shouldn’t be viewed as a “terrorist” lawyer.

A group of about 10 people, including Khan’s wife, one of his sons and other taxi drivers, appeared in the court of Judge Geraldine Soat Brown, on behalf of Khan who wore an orange prison jumpsuit with his hands shackled.

“It’s a testament to Khan he has this kind of support here,” Durkin said. “I ‘m not sure terrorists can gather this many people.”

Khan is being held at the federal lock-up Metropolitan Correctional Centre where Headley and co-accused Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana are also detained.

The 35-page complaint alleges that Khan met Kashmiri several times. Khan, it says learned in 2008 that Kashmiri was working with Al Qaeda and purportedly receiving orders from Osama bin Laden.

“According to Khan, during his meeting or meetings with Kashmiri, Khan learned that Kashmiri wanted to train operatives to conduct attacks in the US. Kashmiri showed Khan a video depicting the detonation of an improvised explosive device and told him that he needed money, in any amount, to be able to purchase materials from the black market,” the complaint said.

Khan is alleged to have transferred about $950 on Nov 23, 2009 from a currency exchange in Chicago to Individual A in “either Mirpur or Bhimber” in Pakistan.