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U.S. Judge Detains Danish Newspaper Plot Suspect

The Danish caricatures sparked Muslim protests from Pakistan to Switzerland and the United States.
CHICAGO (Reuters) -- A federal judge has denied bond to a Pakistani-born Chicago businessmen charged with plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper, saying there was too much risk he would flee before trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan said her decision to hold Tahawwur Rana, 48, was based on his substantial assets of $1.6 million, his strong ties to Canada, his understanding of immigration procedures and the potential 30-year prison term he faced if convicted of conspiring to support terrorism.

Rana, a Canadian citizen who was raised in Pakistan, has been charged along with David Headley, a U.S. citizen with ties to Pakistan, with plotting to attack the "Jyllands-Posten" newspaper in Denmark to exact revenge for 2005 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which outraged many Muslims.

Nolan said she was concerned that Rana had made recent business trips to Europe, India and elsewhere, and had the "means and the motive" to flee before trial.

Nolan cited Rana's contacts with organizations with links to terrorism including Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Pakistani group blamed for the November 2008 assault on Mumbai that killed 166 people. But Rana "did not appear to have a propensity toward violence," she added.

Headley, 49, has also been charged with scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers. He has been cooperating with authorities and entered a not guilty plea to all charges last week, although the plea could be withdrawn later.

The judge said she was not persuaded by defense arguments that Rana had been "duped" by Headley in the plot against the Danish newspaper, based on five hours of recorded conversations and e-mails provided by government investigators.