Courtroom artist's drawing Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana.(AP File Photo)
Courtroom artist's drawing Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana.(AP File Photo)

US seeks to extradite 26/11 accused to India

The Biden administration has urged a California court to clear the extradition of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana to India for his role in planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack
By Yashwant Raj, Washington
UPDATED ON JUL 21, 2021 05:40 AM IST

The Biden administration has urged a California court to clear the extradition of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana to India for his role in planning the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.

US government attorneys urged the court to “conclude that India’s extradition request contains sufficient evidence of probable cause on each of the criminal charges for which India seeks Rana’s extradition”.

Rana, 59, has been declared a fugitive by India, where he is facing multiple criminal charges for his involvement in the 2008 terror attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. A warrant was issued for his arrested in India in August 2018.

US attorneys, Tracy L Wilkison and Christopher D Grigg, in a proposed order titled Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, said, “Having found that all of the requirements for certification of extradition have been satisfied, the Court certifies the extradition of Tahawwur Hussain Rana to the Secretary of State and commits him to custody pursuant.”

“Based on the evidence submitted by India, RANA allowed fraud against the Indian government to occur through the creation and submission of forged documents. The purpose behind such fraud is irrelevant under the Indian criminal provisions,” the document, filed on July 15, said.

The Indian government has accused Rana of conspiring with David Coleman Headley to assist the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

“In any event, RANA knowingly allowed Headley to obtain the business visa and the cover that he needed to conduct terrorism-related surveillance operations in India, ultimately leading to the three-day terrorist attacks in Mumbai,” the document said.

Headley, a Pakistani-American who scouted the Mumbai targets for LeT operatives, visited India using the Indian branch of Rana’s Chicago-based company, First World Immigration Services, as cover.

Headley is serving a 35-year-jail sentence in a plea deal with the US government that protects him from extradition.

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According to the document, the evidence establishes that the Mumbai attacks were committed by LeT, a terrorist organisation targeting India.

“Rana was aware that Headley was involved with LeT, and that by assisting Headley and affording him a 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. Further, it was foreseeable that these attacks would lead to death, injury, and destruction of property,” it said.

Rana’s attorneys, John D. Cline and Patrick W. Blegen, however, argued that the “government has not satisfied the requirement” of provisions of the Extradition Treaty that a request for extradition be supported by “such information as would justify the committal for trial of the person if the offense had been committed in the Requested State”.

Rana was held guilty by a jury in a Chicago court in 2011 for providing material support to a terrorist plot against a Danish news publication and to LeT, and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2013.

The court, however, acquitted him on the charge of conspiracy to provide material support for the Mumbai attack.

Rana was released in 2020 on humanitarian grounds when he tested positive for Covid-19 and rearrested shortly after in Los Angeles on India’s extradition request.

In another motion filed in the California court on July 15, the US attorneys urged the court to find that India has the jurisdiction to charge Rana for “(a) conspiracy to wage war, to commit murder, to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating, to use a forged document, and to commit a terrorist act, in violation of Indian Penal Code (lists sections)..; (b) waging war, in violation of IPC (section); (c) conspiracy to wage war, in violation of (another section of) IPC; (d) murder, in violation of IPC (section); (e) committing a terrorist act; and (f) conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.”

(With Agency inputs)

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