Charges in Mumbai terror case won't mean much

December 21, 2011 (CHICAGO)

But in this Intelligence Report: Those charges will have no teeth.

Law enforcement officials in India have approved moving forward with charges against a total of nine men, including Chicagoans David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana. Both men are in federal custody here after a terrorism trial last summer.

But, even with formal charges by India against Rana and Headley, odds are they will never be sent overseas.

The nine are being charged with conspiring to launch the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left more than 160 people dead and 300 wounded.

The three-day siege featured shootings and bombings at 10 venues, executed by commandoes from Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba terror sect.

The son of a Pakistani diplomat, David Headley became a U.S. government witness and testified against his boyhood friend, Tahawwur Rana, during a trial in Chicago. Rana, who owned a North Side travel and immigration agency, was convicted of aiding the Pakistani terror group in a Denmark plot, but in June a Chicago jury found Rana not guilty of helping to shape the attack on Mumbai, India.

Because of that acquittal, Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen tells the I-Team that Rana cannot be extradited to India. According to Blegen, "the extradition treaty between the United States and India precludes extradition where the person sought has been acquitted. Likewise, the extradition treaty between Canada and India (Rana is a Canadian citizen) precludes extradition after an acquittal."

While Indian intelligence agents will be allowed to question Headley, he will not be extradited either. The Justice Department's plea agreement with Headley prohibits his being sent to India for trial.

In addition to Headley and Rana, the list of those who have been cleared for charges by India's national investigation agency includes several men considered top Lashkar terrorists, including the elusive leader, Ilyas Kashmiri, thought to be one of al-Qaeda's most ruthless leaders.

Kashmiri is also under indictment in Chicago as part of the Headley-Rana terror conspiracy. He is considered a federal fugitive.

Two others being charged by the government of India were affiliated with Pakistan's official state intelligence agency and are also under indictment in Chicago.

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