Mumbai attack co-conspirator re-arrested in US, stares at extradition

Rana, 59, was recently released from jail on compassionate ground after he told a US court that he has tested positive for the COVID-19

The 2008 Mumbai attack was one of India's most horrific terrorist attacks in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed and over 300 injured as 10 heavily-armed terrorists from Pakistan caused mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana has been rearrested in Los Angeles following an extradition request from India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed, according to the US prosecutors.

Rana (59) was recently released from jail on compassionate grounds after he told a US court that he had tested positive for the COVID-19. He was rearrested in Los Angeles on June 10 following an extradition request by India, where he is a declared fugitive, they said.

Assistant US Attorney John J Lulejian told the court that the Indian government, as per the bilateral Extradition Treaty signed in 1997, has requested the arrest and detention of Rana with a view towards his extradition.

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Lulejian said India has informed the United States that Rana is being prosecuted for a number of offences, including the conspiracy to commit murder, in violation of Sections 120B and 302, and murder in violation of Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Rana has also been charged with conspiracy to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating, and conspiracy to use a forged document as genuine on electronic record.

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An arrest warrant was issued against Rana in India by Poonam A Bamba, District and Sessions Judge, Special Court of India’s premier investigation agency National Investigation Agency (NIA), on August 28, 2018.

Extradition in progress

According to the federal prosecutors, between 2006 and November 2008, Rana conspired with his childhood friend David Coleman Headley, also known as ‘Daood Gilani’, and others located in Pakistan to assist Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harakat ul-Jihad-e-Islami, both US-designated terrorist organisations, to plan and carry out the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

In his defence, Rana’s lawyer said he had been duped by his high school buddy, David Coleman Headley, an admitted terrorist who plotted the Mumbai attacks, and the government’s chief witness who testified to avoid the death penalty. The defence maintained that Headley was a habitual liar and manipulator to whom Rana had become a victim.

Rana was serving a 168-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution Terminal Island in San Pedro, California when he contracted COVID-19.

His second petition — Renewed Motion for Compassionate Release — was filed on June 4 after the first one was rejected. Five days later, on June 9, Judge Leinenweber granted Rana’s motion, reduced his sentence to time served, and ordered his immediate release, while leaving intact all other aspects of his criminal conviction.

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He was formally rearrested the next day on June 10. Given that he is a Canadian citizen, the Department of Homeland Security has filed an immigration detainer for him with the Bureau of Prisons.

The 2008 Mumbai attack was one of India’s most horrific terrorist attacks in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed and over 300 injured as 10 heavily-armed terrorists from Pakistan caused mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive, was hanged to death on November 21, 2012.

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