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26/11 Convicted only in Mickey Mouse case, why India’s road to Rana is a tough one

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New Delhi, Nov 27: Nearly two years after the Mumbai 26/11 attack, one of the biggest revelations to have come out is with regard to David Headley. The American agent who had turned rogue was the one who carried out the reconnaissance of the targets that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba hit in Mumbai.

26/11 Convicted only in Mickey Mouse case, why India’s road to Rana is a tough one

The other name that cropped up from the United States was that of Tahawwur Rana. He was accused of helping Headley forge documents and also facilitate his travel to India.

US stands with India in its quest for justice for 26/11: Donald TrumpUS stands with India in its quest for justice for 26/11: Donald Trump

India had managed to question Headley, but till date has not been able to get its hands on Rana.

The case against Rana has always been a non-starter. India was hoping that after questioning Headley, it could also interrogate Rana in a bid to join the dots and understand further their Indian connections as well.

Since the past 7 years, India has been trying to build up a case to question Rana. While an extradition seemed tough, the NIA at least wanted to question him in connection with the 26/11 attack.

There were plenty of issues that stood in the way of India and Rana. The biggest setback was a court order. A US federal court had indicted Headley and Rana for their support Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists. Headley was sentenced to 35 years in jail for several crimes, which included his role in the 26/11 attacks. He was also held guilty of a proposed attack on a newspaper in Denmark, the plot which is famously referred to as the Mickey Mouse Project.

Rana, a Canadian national and close friend of Headley was on the other hand convicted and sentenced to 14 years in jail for conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist plot in Denmark. In June 2011, he was acquitted of conspiracy to provide material support to the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack. He was however convicted to taking part in a conspiracy against the Danish newspaper.

26/11: India slams Pakistan for showing 'little sincerity'26/11: India slams Pakistan for showing 'little sincerity'

The NIA had however renewed its request to extradite Rana in 2016. It would be a bit tricky legally, say officials, with the double jeopardy clause coming into play. The US law bars a person from being punished twice for the same offence. As of now, Rana stands acquitted in the 26/11 case and hence pushing for a questioning at least through video conferencing appears to be very difficult as of now.

An official with the NIA tells OneIndia that they would continue to pursue the case. Rana it may be recalled had said in a statement prior to the trial that he was an ISI operative and not a cadre of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Rana may have been cleared of of any direct involvement in the 26/11 case. The NIA has prepared a separate chargesheet in the 26/11 case in which it links Rana to the attacks.

Our case is not guided by the decision of the US court. We have enough evidence against him and it is on this basis that we will continue to pursue our case with the US authorities.

Even our own chargesheet does describe the manner in which Rana helped Headley with the travel. Had Rana not helped Headley with his travel, then the latter would not have been able to move around with such ease. It was in the year 2006 that Rana helped Headley open an immigration office which was in fact used to facilitate his travel and also survey targets for the 26/11 attack. The NIA also states that there is ample evidence to show that each time Headley returned to the US, he met with Rana first and briefed him about the progress made in the case.

The road to Rana looks particularly difficult now. However India sees a silver lining in the announcement that the US made. The US had on the eve of the 26/11 anniversary announced a 5 million reward for any information leading up to the arrest of conviction in any country of any individual who committed, conspired to commit, or aided or abetted the execution of the Mumbai 2008 attack.

26/11: Memorial unveiled on Nariman House terrace26/11: Memorial unveiled on Nariman House terrace

The Donald Trump administration is making all the right noises where terror is concerned.

Unlike Presidents of the past, Trump has been more vocal on Pakistan. This India feels would help it in its case against Rana. The officials in India and US are in talks with each other and the NIA hopes that the permission to question Rana would come through sooner or later.

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