KOCHI: After a gap of 10 years, enforcement agencies are hopeful of making a breakthrough in tracing the connections of LeT operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana in Kerala during his stay in Kochi for recce before the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are optimistic about unearthing more details about Rana’s activities here, after the United States finally agreed to look into NIA’s request seeking Rana’s extradition to India for collecting more details in terrorism-related cases involving main LeT operative David Coleman Headley and Rana, who is in jail after a US court convicted him in connection with the Mumbai attacks.
A former Pakistan army physician-turned-businessman, Rana, along with Headley, had conducted surveillance of targets in Mumbai and other regions as part of planning the attacks. He had visited Kochi in November, 2008, under the guise of an emigration consultant. However, the cops caught wind of this only a year later in November 2009.
Headley, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), had pleaded guilty to conspiring the Mumbai attacks, which enabled him to strike a deal with the US in securing a plea bargain and escape the death penalty and extradition to India.
“Though intelligence agencies collected the details pertaining to Rana’s visit and stay in Kochi, no specific details about the local network he established was ascertained. The cops were only able to trace a person through which Rana managed to give an advertisement about his consultancy to a daily,” said a senior intelligence officer.
Even NIA couldn’t collate much details about Rana’s activities in Kochi, except for the consultancy meetings he held with a couple of people who probably turned up at the five-star hotel he was staying after seeing his advertisement.
If the US agrees to extradite Rana as requested, NIA will be able to fill certain crucial missing gaps which will help it get more details about the silent terrorist network operating in the state.It was state police chief Loknath Behera who had led an NIA team to the US to interrogate Headley in 2010.
Arrived in Nov, 2008
A former Pakistan army physician-turned-businessman, Rana visited Kochi in November, 2008, under the guise of an emigration consultant. However, the cops caught wind of this only a year later in November 2009.