India: 'Visas cancelled' for Chicago terror suspects

December 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) The move by India against Chicagoans David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana comes several years too late to prevent the Mumbai massacre, a terrorist attack that ended with the deaths of 175 people in the south Asia nation's worst terror attack in recent history.

Headley and Rana are being held in Chicago's MCC on charges that they worked as plotters, planners and financiers for a violent, Pakistani-based terrorist organization known as Lashkar.

Both men have been linked by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to the November 2008 attack on hotels and other public buildings in Mumbai, India. Headley in particular made several trips to India to secretly capture videos and photographs for Lashkar-e-Taiba of prospective targets for the organizations attacks in India.

The pair is currently detained without bond, but if they were to be released at some point they would not be allowed back into India because their visas have been de-authorized.

India's counterpart to the Associated Press, the Press Trust of India (PTI,) reports that the Indian visas of Rana and Headley along with two others were cancelled a day after the FBI filed the case against them in a Chicago Court.

"Besides Headley and Rana, Indian visas have also been cancelled of those of Rana's wife Samraz Rana Akhthar and his business partner Raymond Sanders" reports the PTI.

Government agencies have issued official directives to overseas Indian missions and points of entry in India not to allow any of the four people into the country and United States customs officials have also been notified.

As the ABC7 I-Team reported in early December, Headley allegedly scouted terrorist targets while travelling on a five-year multi-entry business visa. It was issued to him under mysterious circumstances in July 2007 and Indian officials in Chicago refused to discuss the matter.

Rana was given a one-year business visa, valid up to March 2011, and both were also exempted from police reporting if their stay was less than 180 days at a single stretch.

Update: Vanishing Visa's From Chicago Consulate

The Hindustan Times newspaper reported Thursday that "Confusion persisted over the status of the papers on the basis of which multi-entry visas were issued by the Indian Consulate in Chicago to David Headley, an American-Pakistani and Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian-Pakistani, both arrested by the FBI for plotting terror attacks against India.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor told reporters in New Delhi that Rana's papers have been found but those of Headley were still being traced.

However, a highly placed source in the Home Ministry, when asked about Headley's papers, said "indications from Chicago are that the papers are in store. Nothing has been lost. We will get them by tomorrow."

On Wednesday, the I-Team reported that Indian Foreign Office officials said Rana and Headley's Chicago visa records were missing and that an explanation was demanded from the Chicago mission.

Thursday in New Delhi diplomatic authorities took the line that it would be inaccurate to conclude that the visa applications were missing…just that they were unaccounted.


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