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India to now focus on Rana

delhi Updated: Mar 20, 2010 00:42 IST
HT Correspondent

With David Headley, arrested in Chicago in October on terror charges including plotting 26/11 strikes, having struck a deal with prosecutors, there are indications that Indian agencies will focus on his co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana.

According to Headley's confessional statement, part of the plea bargain with prosecutors, the Pakistani-American kept Rana in the loop every step of the way - from his decision to carry out reconnaissance trips to Mumbai to his numerous meetings with Lashkar-e-Tayyeba leaders, including Ilyas Kashmiri in Pakistan.

"Rana clearly was not just the financier that he had been made out to be," said a police officer on condition of anonymity.

A Canadian, who now resides in Chicago, Rana's arrest came two weeks after Headley's detention by the FBI. Rana owns several businesses including First World Immigration Services. The firm has offices in Chicago, New York and Toronto.

Rana faces one count of conspiracy for providing material support to a foreign terrorist conspiracy that involved Headley and at least three other individuals in Pakistan.

Now that Headley had struck a deal saving him from extradition and death penalty, Indian officials said they would closely watch how the prosecutors treat Rana, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin.

“But it seems difficult that Rana would get the same treatment… Headley has already spilled the beans on him," an official said.

Indian investigators are hoping Rana would tell them more about Headley besides the Mumbai attack and the Lashkar’s plans for other cities.

In May 2008, Headley had told Rana that the outfit wanted him to open a branch of First World Immigration in Delhi as a front for their activities.

Headley, with Rana’s assistance, got on to next project — attack offices of the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten — even before 10 terrorists on November 26, 2008 landed at sites identified by him in Mumbai.