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US court allows extradition of Mumbai attacks accused Pakistani-origin businessman to India

Court says Tahawwur Rana will remain in US custody till secretary of state to India takes decision
Rana, who runs a business in Chicago, was convicted of supporting a militant group in 2011. Photo via ANI
Rana, who runs a business in Chicago, was convicted of supporting a militant group in 2011. Photo via ANI

A United States court has consented to the extradition of a Pakistani-origin businessman, Tahawwur Rana, to India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack after a ruling of the United States court, BBC reported.

Rana, who runs a business in Chicago, was convicted of supporting a militant group in 2011. The group is blamed for the attack that killed 166 people. But he was cleared of the charge of helping the plot. The businessman was arrested after an extradition request by India in 2020.

Rana denied all the charges against him and challenged India’s extradition request.

On Monday, a US court allowed his extradition. Rana had been charged in India with criminal “conspiracy, committing terrorist acts and murder” - all of which are extraditable offences as per the treaty between US and India, the court said.

“Based on such review and consideration and for the reasons discussed herein, the Court makes the findings set forth below, and certifies to the secretary of state of the United States the extraditability of Rana on the charged offences that are the subject of the request,” said a 48-page court order dated May 16, reported The Hindu.

But the court added that Rana would remain in US custody till the secretary of state to India gives the final nod.

Over 160 people were killed in a rampage by 10 gunmen in November 2008. In the 60-hour siege, they stormed a train station, hotels, hotels, cafes, and a Jewish centre.

According to Indian authorities, Rana had plotted the attack with his childhood friend David Coleman Headley. They claimed that they were friends from their days in a Pakistani military school. They allegedly assisted the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was blamed for the attack.

In the case, prosecutors accused Rana of allowing Headley to open an office of his Chicago-based immigration services firm in Mumbai in 2006. The company was allegedly used by Headley as cover to hunt sites for the attack.

Headley posed as a representative of Rana’s firm in order to gain access to newspaper offices, prosecutors claimed. Headley is serving a 35-year jail term in the US for his role in the attacks. He testified against Rana in 2011.

The Pakistani-origin businessman’s legal team claimed that their client was “manipulated and misled” by Headley.

But Chicago’s federal court convicted Rana of providing support to the banned LeT and his role in a plot against a Danish newspaper in 2011. The plan was aborted. He was cleared of charges of direct involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

The court sentenced him to 14 years in prison in 2013. Seven years later, he was freed on “compassionate grounds” after testing positive for Covid-19.

The National Investigation Agency of India was investigating his role in the Mumbai attacks. The NIA has said that it was ready to start proceedings to bring him to the country through diplomatic channels.

There is an extradition treaty in place between India and the US. The judge ruled that the extradition of Rana to India was “fully under the jurisdiction of the treaty”.

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