Chicago terror convict 1 step closer to trial in India for alleged role in Mumbai massacre

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Chicagoan 1 step closer to India trial for alleged role in terror plot
Chicago travel agent Tahawwur Rana is accused of participating in a Mumbai, India terror plot with David Headley, and could be extradited.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal agents in the U.S. said a Chicago travel agent and businessman from Pakistan was part of the terror plot that left India's biggest city in flames, and littered with human bodies in late November 2008.

That man, Tahawwur Rana, is about to find out whether he will be sent to India to stand trial.

SEE ALSO | Long wait continues for Chicagoan facing extradition for Mumbai attack plot

The death toll of the Mumbai massacre was terrible; 175 people died, including nine commandos, who seized the city for several days.

Rana, once a Pakistani Army doctor, was charged by Indian authorities with providing cover for a Mumbai attack scout, David Coleman Headley, who was also from Chicago.

The FBI arrested Rana in Chicago in 2009 and questioned him for hours about his alleged role in the Mumbai massacre.

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At age 62, Rana has already served his time for a related death plot on behalf of a Pakistani terrorist organization. But, for nearly two years, he's been locked up at Terminal Island, a federal prison in California, fighting attempts by the U.S. and India to put him on trial there for the actual Mumbai attack.

"This is a very big deal, which is why this person's attorneys are fighting against this tooth and nail," said former federal prosecutor and ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer.

According to court records, a judge has turned down Rana's request for a new hearing, even though the last court action for the Chicago man in Los Angeles was almost two years ago. Now, the judge promises an extradition decision within 30 days.

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"It's hard to understand why it's taking the judge, or has taken a judge two years. Extradition hearings are typically not that complicated," said Soffer. "Probably the fact that the judge has sat on this request for a very long time while this person is incarcerated, probably just the judge has a sense, she's not going to let him go... and going to extradite him to India."

Rana is considered a fugitive in India. He could face the death penalty there if convicted in the Mumbai attack.

His Chicago accomplice in the India terror plot, David Coleman Headley, ended up pleading guilty in the U.S. and got 35 years. Headley's deal prevents extradition and near certain execution.