A United States court has set February 12 as the date of hearing for extradition of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, who has been declared a fugitive by India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack case.
The 59-year-old Rana, 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.
US District Court Judge in Los Angeles Jacqueline Chelonian said in her order on November 13 that the extradition hearing in this case is scheduled for February 12, 2021, at 10:00 am.
Rana has time till December 21 to file his opposition to the request for extradition. The United States government will have another months' time to file its reply.
In its motion on September 28, the US government supported Rana's extradition to India where he has been charged with the offenses of conspiracy to wage war, commit a terrorist act, the waging of war, the commission of murder, and a terrorist act.
Rana, in his defense, has argued that America’s decision not to extradite his co-conspirator, David Headley, to India is inconsistent and bars his extradition.
However, the US government argued differently “because Headley fulfilled the required terms, the plea agreement established that Headley would not be extradited to India,” said US attorney Nicola T Hanna.
“Rana's situation is different because he neither pleaded guilty nor cooperated with the United States. As a result, cannot avail himself of the benefits afforded to Headley through his negotiated plea. Such a position is neither inconsistent nor a bar to extradition,” he said.
Unlike Rana, Headley immediately accepted responsibility for his conduct and pleaded guilty to all of the charges in the Superseding Indictment, Hanna said. As per the plea agreement, the United States agreed that it would not extradite Headley to India “for the foregoing offenses, including conduct within the scope of those offenses for which he has been convicted in accordance with this plea so long as he fully discloses all material facts concerning his role with respect to these offenses and abides by all other aspects of this agreement”.
Pakistan-born Rana completed Army Medical College there, and served in the Pakistani army as a doctor for more than a decade, but eventually deserted.
He is currently a Canadian citizen, but was a resident of Chicago where he had a business. According to the court papers, he has also resided in and traveled to Canada, Pakistan, Germany and England and speaks seven languages.
According to the federal prosecutors, between 2006 and November 2008, Rana conspired with Headley, also known as 'Daood Gilani’, and others in Pakistan to assist Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Harakat ul-Jihad-e-Islami, both US-designated terrorist organisations, to plan and carry out the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Pakistani-American LeT terrorist Headley was involved in plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. 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.
The 2008 Mumbai attack was one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in India in which 166 people were killed and over 300 injured as 10 heavily-armed terrorists from Pakistan created mayhem in the country's financial capital.
Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive, was hanged to death on November 21, 2012.