U.S. court allows extradition of 26/11 attack accused Pakistani-origin Canadian Tahawwur Rana to India

NIA is probing into his role in the 26/11 attacks carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in 2008

May 18, 2023 12:58 am | Updated 05:53 pm IST - New Delhi

Tahawwur Rana was arrested in the U.S. on an extradition request by India for his role in these attacks. File

Tahawwur Rana was arrested in the U.S. on an extradition request by India for his role in these attacks. File | Photo Credit: PTI

A U.S. court has consented to the Indian request, through the U.S. government, for the extradition of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana to India where he is sought for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

On June 10, 2020, India filed a complaint seeking the provisional arrest of 62-year-old Rana with a view towards extradition. The Biden Administration had supported and approved the extradition of Rana to India.

“The Court has reviewed and considered all of the documents submitted in support of and in opposition to the Request, and has considered the arguments presented at the hearing,” Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, U.S. Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court Central District of California, said in a 48-page court order dated May 16, which was released on May 17.

“Based on such review and consideration and for the reasons discussed herein, the Court makes the findings set forth below, and CERTIFIES to the Secretary of State of the United States the extraditability of Rana on the charged offences that are the subject of the Request,” the judge wrote.

Rana was arrested in the U.S. on an extradition request by India for his role in these attacks.

The National Investigation Agency is probing into his role in the 26/11 attacks carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in 2008. The NIA has said that it is ready to initiate proceedings to bring him to India through diplomatic channels.

During court hearings, U.S. government attorneys argued that Rana was aware that his childhood friend Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that by assisting Headley and affording him cover for his activities, he was supporting the terrorist organisation and its associates.

Rana knew of Headley’s meetings, what was discussed, and the planning of the attacks, including some of the targets. The U.S. government asserted that Rana was part of the conspiracy and there is probable cause that he committed the substantive crime of commission of a terrorist act.

Rana’s attorney on the other hand opposed the extradition.

Also Read | Prosecuting David Headley

A total of 166 people, including six Americans, were killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 10 Pakistani terrorists laid a more than 60-hour siege, attacking and killing people at iconic and vital locations of Mumbai.

Because members of the conspiracy committed acts resulting in death with the intention of causing death, or at a minimum committed those acts knowing its imminent dangers, there is sufficient evidence that the elements for murder would be satisfied, federal prosecutors said.

There is an extradition treaty in place between India and the United States. The judge ruled that the extradition of Rana to India is fully under the jurisdiction of the treaty.

India, the judge said, has issued an arrest warrant and charged Rana with the following offences on which the US is proceeding: (a) conspiracy to wage war, to commit murder, to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating, to use as genuine a forged document or electronic record, and to commit a terrorist act (b) waging war, (d) murder, (e) committing a terrorist act and (f) conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

“The foregoing charged offences constitute extraditable offences within the meaning and scope of the Treaty and over which India has jurisdiction,” the judge ruled.

The judge said that sufficient competent evidence has been presented to establish probable cause that Rana is the individual who has been charged in India and whose extradition has been sought by India in this action, and that Rana committed the aforementioned offences for which extradition has been sought.

“It is therefore ordered that Tahawwur Hussain Rana be and remain committed to the custody of the United States Marshal pending a final decision on extradition and surrender by the Secretary of State to India for trial of the offences as to which extradition has been granted pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, section 3186 and the Treaty,” the judge ruled.

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