A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team will leave for Washington DC Tuesday to resolve legal issues in the extradition of Tahawwur Rana, who along with David Coleman Headley, is accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, it is learnt.
The NIA team to discuss the extradition was formed after the FBI invited the agency to the US to “resolve outstanding issues” in a letter to the NIA Director General. The team comprises NIA Superintendent of Police Sanjukta Parashar, the agency’s Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan, an official from the Home Ministry and two other officials.
Sources told The Indian Express that the team will leave for the US Tuesday and return on December 17.
In the letter to the NIA, Puneet Singh, FBI Attaché in the US Embassy in Delhi, said: “…I respectfully request NIA to send a team to Washington DC in December 2018 to resolve the outstanding issues. As always, we appreciate your cooperation and the partnership of our two organisations.”
Rana was tried in a US court and convicted of providing support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which carried out the attacks but he had not been tried for offences registered in India — of forgery and criminal breach of trust.
His extradition has been stuck since the double jeopardy clause in US law prevents punishment for the same offence twice. Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a US court, but Indian officials believe they have a case because his conviction was made only on the basis of six Americans killed in the 26/11 attack.
A school friend of Headley’s, Rana is serving a 14-year term in the US for providing the LeT material support.
The US Department of Justice, through the US Embassy in Delhi, sent the letter on October 30. It said, “FBI and NIA have held various teleconferences over the past few months regarding the Indian request for extradition of 2008 Mumbai attacks co-conspirator Tawahur Rana…While our agencies have made great strides in overcoming various legal issues, a few challenges still remain which can be overcome expeditiously during inperson consultations.”
NIA sources said that the agency was in touch with the FBI over the last several months and was finally asked to visit the US to settle legal issues before the extradition process begins. “After this process is settled, a final thrust for the extradition of Rana will begin,” said a senior official.
Explained: Why Rana’s extradition is key to 26/11 trial
A key aide of David Coleman Headley, Rana’s extradition to India will help the NIA and Indian intelligence agencies gather more information on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks conspiracy hatched in Pakistan.
While Pakistan drags its feet on the trial against key conspirators in the case including Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, this is one step forward for Indian agencies trying to bring the perpetrators to justice.