Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin arrested by the FBI for allegedly plotting terror strikes in India, was in Kochi on a “talent spotting mission” days before the 26/11 attacks.
<b1>“A man named Tahawwur Hussain Rana had stayed in a five-star hotel in Kochi on November 16 last year. Intelligence officials are verifying details given to the hotel,” state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said in Thrissur. According to police sources, details of his passport issued in Ottawa, Canada, in 2006 and his address in Chicago were
ascertained from the hotel records. After his one-day stay with his wife, he left for Mumbai.
His wife was identified as Samraz Rana, a Canadian, born in Bahawalpur in Pakistan.
Rana reportedly issued an advertisement in a daily in Kerala on November 17, offering visas to young candidates to the US and Canada on a “limited time money back guarantee”. The advertisement also listed three other locations – Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Delhi – for the offer.
The advertisement claimed Rana was a Chicago-based emigration consultant. “It seems the interview was just a cover-up. Though he interviewed a couple of candidates, no one seemed to have been offered anything,” a senior police officer said in Kochi. Both numbers given in the advertisement are defunct now.
There are reports that Rana visited Kochi through the initiative of SIMI leader CAM Basheer, a key operative of the Lakshar-e-Tayyeba and a wanted terrorist.