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Mumbai terror attacks: NIA claims progress in Tahawwur Rana extradition plan

Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana. File Photo.  

There was some “progress” in the extradition proceedings of Tahawwur Rana, key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, a senior NIA official said on Friday, even though a U.S court postponed the extradition hearing to February 12, 2021. The hearings were earlier stated to begin January 8.

On September 28, the federal prosecutors of the U.S. filed a fresh “extradition memorandum” in the district court of California regarding Rana’s extradition for “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists” and other sections such as “conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country” and “damaging a building by using explosives.”

The 56-page plea filed by Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said the extradition proceedings were “sui generis (unique)” in nature.

The plea filed by India says Rana is wanted for “conspiracy to wage war” and “cheating.”

The Pakistani-Canadian citizen has challenged the extradition and filed a plea in the U.S court on November 25, court records show.

Rana, who is currently lodged in a jail in the U.S., was arrested in 2009 for providing material support to Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that planned and executed the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed 166 lives, including six Americans.

He is serving a 14-year imprisonment after he was convicted for providing material support to the LeT in 2013 and since he has been imprisoned since 2009, the jail term would also include the period he had served in prison.

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

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was raised after the 26/11 attacks, has registered a case of forgery, criminal conspiracy, murder and various sections under the anti- terror UAPA in the case.

‘Double jeopardy’ clause

As the ‘double jeopardy’ clause in the U.S. law prohibits punishment for the same crime twice, India had tweaked its request 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.

In June last, the U.S authorities informed their Indian counterparts about the provisional arrest of Rana. He was released from prison in the U.S on June 10 after he was granted bail on compassionate grounds on testing positive for COVID-19.

According to the India-U.S. Extradition Treaty of 1997, Rana can only be extradited to be tried in a case registered by a federal agency- in this case the NIA, to unearth the conspiracy of several such crimes, including 26/11.

The NIA charge sheet filed in 2011 says that LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and others directed Headley to seek assistance from Rana and “use his [Rana’s] contacts for travel and conceal his real purpose for travel.”

The NIA said that in June 2006, a month before he travelled to India to open the immigration office in Mumbai, Headley met Rana in Chicago and discussed the “whole conspiracy.” “He took the assistance of Rana for using his immigration firm, First World International, as a cover for executing the assignment entrusted by the LeT,” the NIA said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 12:02:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nia-says-progress-in-tahawwur-rana-extradition-proceedings/article33195519.ece

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