A suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Tahawwur Rana allegedly used his immigration consultancy services company as a cover to his terror links, as well as a tool in such operations.
US authorities are probing the operations of Pakistani-Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Rana’s consultancy firm, for possible acts of immigration fraud as part of wider investigation into an international terror plot.
Federal authorities are working to determine the immigration status of people who entered the US with the help of First World Immigration Services, located in the city’s predominantly Indian-Pakistani area Devon Avenue.
“As part of a widening probe into an international terror plot rooted in the city, US authorities are sharpening their sights on First World Immigration in search of possible acts of immigration fraud,” the Chicago Tribune quoted sources familiar with the probe as saying.
Prosecutors charge that the immigration centre served as a front in the Chicago-based terror plot to bomb a Danish newspaper that had published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
They also allege that Rana knew in advance of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people.
According to court filings, Rana allegedly conspired to bring foreigners to the US under false pretenses.
In e-mail conversations, Rana advised an alleged member of the militant Pakistani organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba about “loopholes” to get individuals into the US.
“Whenever you find easy way to come to US, immediately think there is a catch to it,” Rana allegedly wrote in an e-mail, warning against using student visas.
In another message, Rana allegedly suggested that one individual be brought in under a false occupation.
“Make him a cook,” the e-mail said, while in a separate correspondence, he suggested a typewriter be used in an application that would include a false employer letter from 1983, noting that laser printers did not exist back then, prosecutors alleged.
Rana and another Chicagoan David Coleman Headley were arrested in October for plotting terror attacks in Denmark and India.
Prosecutors allege that Rana had helped in Headley’s travels to Copenhagen by arranging travel visas for him, who then posed as an agent of First World while scouting for terror targets.
Rana and Headley, in federal custody, have denied the charges.
Since the federal probe began, Rana’s businesses have been effectively destroyed, his lawyers said.
The scene inside First World is quiet, with Rana’s business partner, attorney Raymond Sanders, “nonchalantly munching peanuts while a female co-worker dispensed advice to a client over the phone”, the Tribune said.