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Chicago terrorism suspect pleads not guilty

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[April 20, 2010]  CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago cab driver pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he attempted to aid al-Qaida by sending money to a terrorist leader believed to be in Pakistan.

InsuranceRaja Lahrasib Khan, an American citizen born in Pakistan, appeared briefly before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel to enter his not guilty plea then returned to the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he is being held without bond at government request.

Several cab drivers attended the hearing to show their support for Khan.

The bare-bones indictment charges Khan, 57, with two counts of attempting to aid al-Qaida.

An affidavit accompanying a criminal complaint filed earlier says Khan discussed with an unnamed associate a plan to attack an unspecified stadium in August, possibly using bags containing remote controlled bombs. "Boom, boom, boom, boom," it quotes him as saying.


The indictment says nothing about an attack on a stadium. It merely says Khan twice sent money intended as aid for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

According to the affidavit, Khan sent $950 on Nov. 23, 2009, to an individual in Pakistan for delivery to Ilyas Kashmiri -- a terrorist leader Khan claimed to have known for 15 years. The complaint said Khan believed Kashmiri was getting his orders from bin Laden, and that Khan sent the money after Kashmiri indicated he needed cash to buy explosives.

On March 17, Khan accepted $1,000 from the undercover agent and assured him that the money would be used to purchase weapons and possibly other supplies, the complaint said.

It said that Khan discussed the possibility of sending the money to England with his son. Under the plan, he would meet his son in England, retrieve the money and proceed to Pakistan to deliver it to Kashmiri, authorities said.

According to the complaint, FBI agents apprehended Khan's son at O'Hare International Airport on March 23 and found that he was carrying some of the money. The son was not charged with wrongdoing.

Durkin said he assumed "that the government has receipts to show that the money was sent" but added that whether the money was sent was not the real issue.

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"The real issue is, was this in support of al-Qaida, and I don't think it was," he said.

Durkin said he had not asked Khan if he knew Kashmiri.

"I don't believe its a crime to know Ilyas Kashmiri," Durkin said. "I don't believe its a crime to talk to him."

Kashmiri, whose whereabouts are unknown, is charged in an unrelated case in federal court in Chicago on charges of helping to plan an attack on a Danish newspaper that published a dozen cartoons in 2005 depicting the Prophet Muhammad, offending many Muslims.

Kashmiri's terrorist activities have been largely focused on the split between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir, according to government documents.

Durkin said Khan himself has strong views on the Kashmir situation. But Durkin said that was not an issue in the case and his client's political views are covered by freedom of speech.

[Associated Press; By MIKE ROBINSON]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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