India Seeks Access to 26/11 Convicts Rana, Headley

Lalit K Jha/Washington
India Seeks Access to 26/11 Convicts Rana, Headley

India has sought access from the US to 26/11 Mumbai terror attack convict David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana - both of whom were found guilty of supporting Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT and sentenced by a Chicago court.

While there was no official word from either side on the issues discussed in particular those with reference to Headley and Rana, officials said it was prominently raised by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde during his meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder here.

"Shinde and Holder agreed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Justice should work together institutionally, so as to ensure the best possible outcomes within the laws of the two countries, to address pending issues relating to extradition, execution of Letters Rogatory and Red Corner Notices, as well as other areas of cooperation in law enforcement, counter terrorism and judicial processes," an official Indian statement said.

Pakistani-American Headley and Pakistani-Canadian Rana were sentenced to 35 years and 14 years respectively by a Chicago court for their roles in the Mumbai attack and an abortive attack on a Danish newspaper.

Both Headley, 52, and Rana, 52, were arrested in 2009. Headley was small-time narcotics dealer turned US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informer who went rogue.

Though India got access to Headley, who carried out a recce of the 26/11 targets for the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, the US has not given any opportunity to question Pakistani-Canadian Rana, Headley's US-based wife Shazia, his girlfriend Portia Peter and another female friend.

Indian investigators believe that if they could further quiz Headley and others, many hidden information could come into light.

The Home Minister also met FBI Director Muller during which the two sides reviewed areas of cooperation and issues of mutual interest.

The FBI and Indian agencies have remained in close contact, and it was agreed that the process of inter-agency cooperation would be developed further, in this context.

After the completion of his official meetings, Shinde and senior members of his delegation left for a day-visit to Boston, during which he is expected to have a detailed briefing of the investigations that resulted in the successful investigation of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing.

Earlier, Shinde led a high-power Indian delegation for the second India-US Homeland Security Dialogue, which was co-chaired by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

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