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Chicago Immigration Agency Investigated As A Front For Terror Plot

By Anna Deem in News on Jan 3, 2010 7:00PM

Photo by: supafly
Located amongst the various restaurants and shops on Devon Avenue in West Rogers Park is First World Immigration Services Inc., a walk-in center for recently arrived immigrants, providing help with visas and citizenship applications. Recently though, U.S. authorities have begun to investigate the agency for possible acts of immigration fraud, saying that the agency served as a front in a Chicago-based terror plot to bomb a Danish newspaper that outraged Muslims when it published unflattering caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. First World's owner, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, also knew in advance of plans for the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, federal prosecutors allege.

Rana is currently in federal custody, along with another Chicagoan, David Coleman Headley, an alleged scout in the Denmark and Mumbai plots. Both men have denied the charges. Federal prosecutors allege that Rana helped Headley scout the newspaper's office in Copenhagen and several other potential targets for terrorism by arranging travel visas for Headley. In an e-mail conversation, Rana also advised an alleged member of the militant Pakistani organization Lashkar-e-Taiba about "loopholes" to get individuals into the U.S., the same group that is believed to have carried out the Mumbai attacks.

Still, others in Chicago's Pakistani community have been eager to defend Rana and his business, claiming that First World is popular among Pakistani and Indian immigrants. "Rana is a very kind-hearted person," said Raja Muhammad Yaqub to the Chicago Tribune. Yaqub, who knows Rana through their mosque, said Rana helped fund a North Side health clinic that serves uninsured patients. "Mostly, those people who are poor, they come to him," Yaqub said. "If he was any kind of negative person, how can he help those who aren't part of his community?"