India's government confirms it is cooperating with the U.S. Federal
Bureau of Investigation concerning a foiled terror plot allegedly
involving two Chicago residents. Meanwhile, India is denying that a
famous Indian political figure was an intended target of the suspects.
U.S. and Indian government investigators are sharing information in the case of two men under arrest in Chicago who were allegedly plotting a terrorist attack in India.
The case has generated concern among India's security establishment, still reeling from the large terror attack on Mumbai 11 months ago.
Indian government officials say senior officers from two intelligence agencies, the Research & Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau will travel to the Untied States next week to interview at least one of the suspects in custody, identified as David Coleman Headley, also known as Daaud Gilani. The investigators, officials here say, want to try to determine the intended target and when the alleged attack was to be carried out.
India's government on Friday acknowledged that Headley had apparently traveled to India several times. He was apprehended October 3 at a Chicago airport as he was preparing to begin a trip to Pakistan.
Also arrested this month in the same case: Tahawwur Hussein Rana, a native Pakistani with Canadian citizenship.
Prosecutors say both men attended the same military school in Pakistan.
An alleged target of the plot in India, according to an FBI affidavit, was named "Rahul."
That has set off intense speculation here about the identity of the intended victim with published reports mentioning high-profile Congress Party politician Rahul Gandhi, whose father and grandmother, both prime ministers, were assassinated.
India's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, is trying to knock down such speculation.
"It could be a pseudonym," he said. "It could be a code name, but please be assured it's not the Rahul that you think it is."
Other reports say the target appears to have been a film actor, perhaps Bollywood super star Shahrukh Khan, who plays characters named Rahul in most of his films.
Besides India, the defendants allegedly also planned to carry out attacks in Denmark, where a newspaper cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 was published, offending many Muslims.
The FBI documents indicate Headley was in repeated contact with members of the Pakistan-based terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is blamed for the late November, 2008 siege of Mumbai, which left more than 160 people dead.
The U.S. State Department has issued a fresh travel alert for India, saying the U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks here.