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Dilemma over sending NIA team to quiz Rana

New Delhi is still undecided over sending a NIA team to the US to question Tahawwur Rana despite Washington promising access to the childhood friend of 26/11 terrorist David Headley. Shishir Gupta reports.From Pak army to 26/11

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2011 11:54 IST
Shishir Gupta

New Delhi is still undecided over sending a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to the US to question convicted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Tahawwur Rana despite Washington promising access to the childhood friend of 26/11 terrorist Daood Gilani alias David Coleman Headley.

Rana is awaiting a sentence by a US court after being convicted for plotting a terrorist attack on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, providing material support to a LeT group. Rana was acquitted on charges of abetting the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.

Government sources said that both US homeland secretary Janet Napolitano and secretary of state Hillary Clinton had assured the UPA government all help in getting access to Rana during their visit to India earlier this year. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/050911/05_09_pg1a.jpg

Napolitano visited India last May for the homeland security dialogue and Clinton was in New Delhi in July for the bilateral strategic dialogue. As part of their promise, Washington sent case papers relating to Rana to the NIA on August 8, 2011.

While the UPA political leadership and the internal security establishment appear keen on sending an NIA team to meet Rana this month, the bureaucracy and the agency are not sure this is required as they believe that the Rana case papers have enough material evidence.

Home ministry officials claim that sending a team to the US would be a waste as convicted Rana would not talk and, as it is, the LeT terrorist has been acquitted of the 26/11 attack charges. Sources in Washington have confirmed that the NIA has sought no dates for meeting Rana.

However, internal security managers believe Rana could provide a wealth of evidence against Lashkar leaders like Hafiz Saeed, al Qaeda terrorist Illyas Kashmiri and others.

Despite Rana's acquittal in the 26/11 case, he could provide details which would help in the extradition of Headley to India.

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