Key accused wanted ‘medal’ for 26/11 Mumbai attacks ‘contribution’: Report

Tahawwur Ranna, who is currently lodged in a Los Angeles prison, is now awaiting extradition to India

Tahawwur Rana
Rana, 59, a childhood friend of David Coleman Headley, was re-arrested on June 10 in Los Angeles | File Photo

Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, a key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, believed that he deserved a “medal” for his “top class” contribution, and also wanted the same to be conveyed to his Pakistani co-conspirator David Coleman Headley, according to reports. He had also said that the Indians “deserved it”.

India has declared Rana a fugitive for his involvement in the 2008 terror attacks and he is currently lodged in a Los Angeles prison, awaiting extradition to India. A US court has set February 12 as the date for hearing his extradition case.

Rana, 59, was re-arrested on June 10 in Los Angeles on the basis of the extradition request by India for his involvement in the 2008 attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. He was earlier arrested in October 2009 by the US police soon after Headley’s arrest at Chicago O’Hare airport.

According to The Hindu, which claimed to have exclusive access to his extradition papers, FBI had intercepted a conversation between Rana and Headley in 2009, during which they demanded “Pakistan’s highest military honour” for the terrorists killed during the attacks. The report said the two were good friends and had attended military high school together.

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US District Court Judge in Los Angeles Jacqueline Chelonian said in her order on November 13 the Extradition Hearing in this case is scheduled for February 12, 2021, at 10 am. Rana has time till December 21 to file his opposition to the extradition request. The government of United States will have another month’s time to file its reply.

In its motion on September 28, the US government supported Rana’s extradition to India where he has been charged with the offences of conspiracy to wage war, commit a terrorist act, the waging of war, the commission of murder, and a terrorist act. But Rana argued the US decision not to extradite his co-conspirator, David Headley, to India is inconsistent and bars his extradition.

However, the US government argued the plea agreement established that Headley would not be extradited to India, said US attorney Nicola T Hanna.

Rana’s situation is different because he neither pleaded guilty nor cooperated with the United States. As a result, cannot avail himself of the benefits afforded to Headley through his negotiated plea. Such a position is neither inconsistent nor a bar to extradition, he said.

Unlike Rana, Headley immediately accepted responsibility for his conduct and pleaded guilty to all of the charges in the Superseding Indictment, Hanna said. As per the plea agreement, the US agreed that it would not extradite Headley to India for the foregoing offenses, including conduct within the scope of those offenses for which he’s been convicted in accordance with this plea so long as he fully discloses all material facts concerning his role with respect to these offenses and abides by all other aspects of this agreement.

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

Pakistan-born Rana completed Army Medical College there and served in Pakistani Army as a doctor for more than a decade, but eventually deserted it. He’s now a Canadian citizen, but was a resident of Chicago where he had a business. Court papers say he has also resided in and travelled to Canada, Pakistan, Germany and England and speaks seven languages.

According to the federal prosecutors, between 2006 and November 2008, Rana conspired with Headley, also known as Daood Gilani, and others 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.

Pakistani-American LeT terrorist Headley was involved in plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. He was made an approver in the case, and is currently serving a 35-year prison term in the US for his role in the attack. India seeks his arrest on a number of offences, including the conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating, and murder under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The 2008 Mumbai attack was one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in India in which 166 people were killed and over 300 injured as 10 heavily-armed terrorists from Pakistan created mayhem in the country’s financial capital. Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive, was hanged to death on November 21, 2012.

(With inputs from agencies)

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