India to request extradition of Chicago terrorists

January 30, 2012 4:24:10 PM PST
In this Intelligence Report: New developments on two continents in the federal case against a pair of Chicago terrorists.

For more than two years a diplomatic tug-of-war has been under way between the U.S. and India. Overseas, Indian officials want to prosecute two Chicago men for the deadly 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, India.

The men, David Headley, also known as Daood Gilani, and Tahawwur Rana, are Pakistan natives who were living in Chicago. After they were arrested in 2009, Headley became a government witness and testified against Rana, who was charged with a terror plot in Denmark and with the November 2008 attack on Mumbai that was actually carried out: three days; 11 synchronized assaults, 164 dead, 300 wounded.

Indian authorities have charged the Chicagoans, Headley and Rana, with helping to plan it all. Now Indian prosecutors are moving to have both men sent there to stand trial.

It was India's 9/11. The nation's worst terror attack. From the first gunshot and explosion, Indian authorities said they knew Pakistani extremists were behind the strike. Now, they have connected the attack to nine individuals, most with connections to Pakistan's official spy agency and to al Qaeda.

Extradition requests will soon be sent to Pakistan and to the U.S. for the men, including David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana. Complicating that effort, Headley has a plea agreement with prosecutors in Chicago that prohibits extradition, and last June Rana was acquitted by a Chicago jury of any role in the Mumbai attack. He was convicted only of a bomb plot against this Danish newspaper.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Chicago Monday would not comment on extradition. But the government has filed a court motion reiterating prosecutors' belief that Rana knew about the Mumbai plot and its connections to Pakistani intelligence.

The prosecutors filed in response to Rana's motion for a new trial. Judge Harry Leinenweber will be ruling on that.

As for the extradition of Headley and Rana to India, while no one at the Justice Department is officially commenting on what the U.S. position and response will be, unofficially, no one expects either Chicagoan to leave American soil.