26/11 Mumbai terror attacks | U.S. informs India of provisional arrest of Tahawwur Rana

In this Jan. 6, 2010 file courtroom artist's drawing Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, center, appears before Judge Matthew Kennelly in Chicago's federal court.   | Photo Credit: AP

U.S authorities have informed India about the provisional arrest of Tahawwur Rana, one of the key players in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as he is “proposed to be extradited” in a case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Rana walked out of a prison in the U.S on June 10 after he was granted bail on compassionate grounds after he tested positive for COVID-19.

As per the India-U.S. Extradition Treaty of 1997, he can only be extradited to be tried in a case registered by the NIA in 2009 to unearth the conspiracy of several such crimes, including the 26/11 terror attack.

The ‘double jeopardy’ clause in the U.S. law prohibits punishment for the same crime twice. Therefore, India tweaked its bid to seek Rana’s custody on the ground that he was actively involved in planning an attack on the National Defence College in Delhi and Chabad houses (Jewish religious centres) in several Indian cities in 2009.

Also read: Pak-origin Canadian rearrested in U.S. on India’s extradition request for role in Mumbai attack

“The authorities here are in touch with their U.S. counterparts. As soon as Rana walked out of prison, the pending warrant as per the extradition pact was executed by the local police and he was taken into custody. The extradition proceedings will begin soon,” a senior government official told The Hindu.

Rana, a Chicago based businessman, helped David Coleman Headley, a prime suspect in the Mumbai terror attacks, open an immigration firm in Mumbai. It was a cover to conduct reconnaissance on targets that were attacked on November 26, 2008, killing 166 people.

Rana was arrested in 2009 for providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which planned and executed the 2008 attack. The NIA has registered cases of forgery, criminal conspiracy, murder and various sections under the UAPA.

Also read: Tahawwur Rana extradition unlikely before 2023, indicates U.S.

The official said that since it was a judicial procedure, it was difficult to give a definitive date for Rana’s extradition.

“He could possibly challenge the extradition up to two levels of court that might take time. It is not possible to give a time frame when the case is being tried judicially,” the official noted.

Hearing on June 30

A US District Court has scheduled the hearing on June 30.

Also read: Rana sentenced to 14 years by US court

Another official said Rana, after his extradition, could be interrogated only by the NIA and not the Mumbai police.

The police and the NIA registered separate cases pertaining to 26/11 attack.

In 2016, Headley who is serving a 35-year sentence in the U.S., deposed through video link as an “approver” or a witness in a city court in a case registered by the Mumbai police against Zabiuudin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, an alleged LeT operative, who was present in the Karachi control room that gave directions to the 10 terrorists on phone. The NIA refused to make him an approver.

An NIA charge sheet filed in 2011 said Headley did not stop at conducting reconnaissance and planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but was also involved in “execution of other future planned terrorist attacks [planned attacks on Chabad houses and the National Defence College) at the behest of LeT and HuJI.” He travelled to India again in March 2009 to conduct a reconnaissance for the attacks, before being arrested at O’Hare airport, Chicago, in October the same year.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 10:37:18 AM |

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