A Chicago cab driver pleaded guilty Monday to funneling money to a Kashmiri separatist leader working with al-Qaida. Raja Lahrasib Khan was charged earlier with providing material support to al-Qaida.
According to the complaint, Khan gave hundreds of dollars to al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri to fight Indian forces in Kashmir. Khan, who grew up in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan, traveled to the region regularly to visit family since immigrating to the United States in the late 1970s. Khan met with Kashmiri twice in the past decade.
Kashmiri, who reportedly was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan last June, worked closely with al-Qaida. His terrorist outfit, Harkatat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI), has been involved in several terrorist attacks against Indian forces in Kashmir.
Kashmiri also was charged by prosecutors in Chicago in connection with a plot to attack the offices of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and kill an editor and cartoonist. The newspaper had published cartoons of the prophet Mohammad in 2005 that had led to violent protests across the Muslim world.
In November 2009, Khan sent $930 dollars from Chicago to an individual in Pakistan, and then instructed the individual by phone to give Kashmiri approximately $300. "Although Khan intended the funds to be used for terrorist attacks in Kashmir, he was also aware that Kashmiri worked for al-Qaida," a Department of Justice press release said.
In early 2010, Khan met several times with an undercover law enforcement agent, who posed as someone interested in sending money to Kashmiri to purchase weapons and ammunition.
At another meeting Khan discussed bombing a stadium in the United States. "You know put one bag here, one there, one there, you know three, four, five different places, you know, boom, boom, boom," he said in a recorded conversation.
Though the charge Khan to which Khan pleaded carries a 15-year prison term, terms of his agreement with prosecutors mean that he faces five to eight years in prison when he is sentenced May 30.