India has accelerated its efforts for the extradition of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the Pakistani-Canadian doctor and the co-conspirator of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, as his prison sentence in the US is nearing end.
The mentor of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley, the key conspirator of the attacks 12 years ago in which 165 people were killed and over 300 were wounded, Rana has been in a US prison in Los Angeles for plotting a terror attack on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Though the Chicago court in the US had held him guilty in 2011 for supporting Lashkar, the globally banned terror group, it acquitted him in the Mumbai terror attacks case. However, in 2013, India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) charged Rana, in absentia, in a Delhi court and sentenced him to 14 years in jail. Since then, the government has been trying to get him extradited to India.
Top sources told IANS that the NIA and the Ministry of External Affairs are making concerted efforts for Rana's extradition now that his sentence in the US is coming to an end. "Technically, his extradition is feasible now," an official source said.
Investigators in India believe that Rana is a "bigger catch" than Headley and his extradition to India will be a huge success for India's counter-terror grid.
Rana and Headley were arrested in the US in 2009 for plotting attacks on the offices of the Danish newspaper, which had published cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. In Islam, any drawing or picture of the Prophet is considered "blasphemous".
Born in 1961, Rana, a former doctor who served in the Pakistani Army, had immigrated to Canada and turned into an immigration service businessman. Before the terror attacks, he had travelled to Mumbai and stayed at Taj Hotel, one of the dozen places the Lashkar suicide squad attacked in a coordinated manner on November 26, 2008.
His friend David Coleman Headley (1960 born Dawood Sayed Gilani) is a Pakistani-American, also serving prison in the US, had pleaded guilty in the Mumbai terror attacks case. In 2013, he was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison but his plea that he should not be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark was accepted by the US court.