Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, sought for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has approached a US court for a status conference after waiting for an order on his extradition to India for more than 20 months.
Rana, 62, a childhood friend of David Coleman Headley, was re-arrested on June 10 in Los Angeles on an extradition request by India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. He is a declared fugitive in India.
US District Court Judge in Los Angeles Jacqueline Chooljian held the last hearing on the extradition issue in June 2021 and the last set of papers was filed in July 2021. The court is yet to give a verdict on the US government’s request to extradite Rana to India.
In a motion moved through his lawyer, Rana has asked for a status conference. “The last pleading in the case was filed on July 21, 2021. Given the passage of time and Rana’s continued incarceration, it appears appropriate for the court and counsel to discuss the current status of the matter,” his lawyer said.
The US government has not opposed the motion for a status conference. Rana’s lawyers have suggested that the status conference be held on April 25.
During court hearings, federal prosecutors argued that Rana was aware that his childhood friend Headley was involved with the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that by assisting Headley and affording him 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.
The US government asserted that Rana was part of the conspiracy and there is probable cause that he committed the substantive crime of commissioning a terrorist act.
Rana’s attorney, on the other hand, opposed the extradition.
As many as 166 people, including six Americans, were killed during the attacks by the LeT members. Because members of the conspiracy committed acts resulting in death with the intention of causing death, or at a minimum committed those acts knowing its imminent dangers, there is sufficient evidence that the elements for murder would be satisfied, federal prosecutors said.
“Under Indian law, other members of the conspiracy also would be liable for murder, even if they were not physically present,” it said, adding that in this case, death resulting from the attacks was foreseeable.
Rana knew that Headley was working with terrorists and that LeT and other co-conspirators were planning attacks in Mumbai.
He also was aware of some of the potential targets, such as the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and its second floor, because he and Headley had discussed those locations.
“Thus, Rana understood that by helping Headley and allowing him to use his immigration office in Mumbai as a cover, LeT and the other terrorists would be able to carry out their attacks.
“Further, because Headley had a co-conspirator meet Rana in Dubai, UAE, and warn him of the upcoming attacks, Rana was in no doubt of what was going to happen,” according to the federal prosecutors.
Pakistani-American LeT terrorist Headley was involved in plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. 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). He is sought for his role in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
The 2008 Mumbai attack was one of India’s most horrific terrorist attacks. Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive, was hanged to death on November 21, 2012.