US court approves extradition of 26/11 Mumbai attack accused Tahawwur Rana to India

New York: In a significant legal victory for India, a US court has approved the extradition of Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana to India where he is sought for his involvement in the horrific 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The ruling comes just over a month before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the US on his first state visit at the invitation of President Joe Biden. He will be hosted by President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a state dinner at the White House on June 22.

US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian of the District Court of the Central District of California issued a 48-page order dated May 16, which was released Wednesday, saying 62-year-old Rana “should be extradited to India” under the extradition treaty between India and the United States.

“The Court has reviewed and considered all of the documents submitted in support of and in opposition to the Request, and has considered the arguments presented at the hearing,” Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, a PTI report quoted US Magistrate Judge of the US District Court Central District of California, as saying in a 48-page court order dated May 16.

The court order was released Wednesday.

“Based on such review and consideration and for the reasons discussed herein, the Court makes the findings set forth below, and CERTIFIES to the Secretary of State of the United States the extraditability of Rana on the charged offences that are the subject of the Request,” the judge wrote.

Tahawwur Rana was arrested in the US on an extradition request by India for his role in these attacks.

Tahawwur Rana’s Involvement in 26/11 Attacks: India’s anti-terror agency, National Investigation Agency (NIA), is probing into Tahawwur Rana’s role in the Mumbai 26/11 attacks carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in 2008. The NIA has said that it is ready to initiate proceedings to bring him to India through diplomatic channels.

During court hearings, US Government attorneys argued that Rana was aware that his childhood friend Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that by assisting Headley and affording him cover for his activities, he was supporting the terrorist organization and its associates, the PTI report mentioned.

‘Rana Knew of David Headley’s Meetings’: It was said in the court hearings that 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 commission of a terrorist act.

Rana’s attorney on the other hand opposed the extradition.

A total of 166 people, including six Americans, were killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 10 Pakistani terrorists laid a siege for over 60 hours, attacking and killing people at iconic and prominent locations of Mumbai.

Ujjwal Nikam, Special Public Prosecutor during 26/11 Mumbai Terror attack, reacted to the news of US allowing Tahawwur Rana’s extradition and called it a “major breakthrough”.

“It is a major breakthrough…extradition order of Tahawwur Rana will help us in many ways, for opening the entire gate of the criminal conspiracy…”: Ujjwal Nikam told news agency ANI.