Closer to punishment: On Tahawwur Rana's role in 26/11 attacks

More details emerge about Tahawwur Rana’s role in the 26/11 attacks

December 01, 2020 12:02 am | Updated 03:03 pm IST

More than 12 years since the dastardly attacks across prominent locations in Mumbai, its key conspirators have continued to evade justice in India. While nine of the attackers were shot dead by the police between November 26-29, 2008 , one of them, Ajmal Kasab, was apprehended and sentenced to death after a trial that revealed the conspiracy and planning by LeT operatives among others responsible for the attacks. One among the foreign collaborators is Tahawwur Rana , who conspired with former FBI agent David Headley to assist the LeT in the planning and execution. Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian citizen , was found guilty by a U.S. court in 2011 of providing material support to the LeT and planning an attack on the offices of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten , and was later sentenced to 14 years in prison. Unlike Headley, who escaped extradition after entering into a plea bargain with the U.S. prosecutors and was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Rana was acquitted in the U.S. of charges of involvement in the 2008 terror attacks. An Illinois court commuted his jail sentence that was scheduled to end in September 2021, after he tested positive for COVID-19; this has opened the window for his extradition to India. Rana, according to Headley , had helped him to open an immigration firm in Mumbai, which was used by Headley to survey targets chosen by the LeT. An extradition memorandum filed by U.S. prosecutors in a California district court has reaffirmed Rana’s role and provides more detail into the conspiracy and the knowledge shared with him by Headley about the attacks. This should provide the U.S. court enough reason for Rana’s extradition to India to face punishment.

The trial of Ajmal Kasab exposed the collusion of the Pakistan deep state with terrorist organisations. Arguably, this has helped in a dramatic reduction in terror targeting civilians in India. Groups such as the LeT and JeM have changed their modus operandi to target security forces since then. The scrutiny over Pakistan has been accentuated by the FATF’s decision to retain Pakistan on its greylist. Yet, Pakistan has done little to bring the culprits of the 26/11 attacks to book — a case in point being LeT chief Hafiz Saeed who has been sentenced to prison for terror financing but has eluded justice for his role in the 2008 attacks by never being charged despite being identified by Ajmal Kasab and Headley as a mentor with knowledge of the attacks. Rana’s extradition would go a long way in bringing justice to the nearly 160 victims of the Mumbai attacks and shed further light on cross-border terror.

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