NIA to finalise charges against Rana after US trial

NIA to finalise charges against Rana after US trial

Pakistani-born Rana is set to appear in for the trial in Chicago that India is closely monitoring because it may unmask the links between Pakistan's spy agency ISI and terrorists.

The court proceedings, which Indian investigators expect could throw more light on the Mumbai attack conspiracy, could come handy for the NIA in finalising its chargesheet against the Headley and Rana, sources said.

Till now, the NIA that is probing the Mumbai mayhem has not filed any chargesheet againt them. The agency has, however, filed a case against Headley and Rana for a criminal conspiracy with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

Though NIA sleuths questioned Headley in a US prison last year, American authorities have so far not not agreed to India's demand for quizzing Rana.

However, the government is still hopeful that the US may grant access to Rana as the request to question him has been sent under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries, the sources said, adding the NIA was keen on questioning Rana before filing its charges.

The sources also did not rule out the possibility of Rana's extradition to India after the NIA files a chargesheet against him.

Officials were optimistic about Rana's extradition because, unlike Headley, he has not entered into any plea bargain with US authorities seeking exemption from any such move.

Rana has been indicted for providing material support to the LeT, designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US.

Headley, who is not on trial as he has entered into a confessional plea bargain with the US, had told Indian investigators in June last year that an ISI officer known as Major Iqbal had given him financial help for scouting identified terror targets in India.

Headley now is a witness against Rana, who helped him in identifying the terror targets in India.

Rana, 50, has remained in federal custody in Chicago since he was arrested Oct 18, 2009, in connection with the Mumbai attack.