NIA’s poor record- Who is to blame?

Three years have gone by since the National Investigation Agency has been formed. The report card for India’s premier agency probing cases of terror does not look all that good, but the question that we must ask is whether the agency has been allowed to function in a manner that it ought to have.

In all the NIA is in charge of around 35 cases which also include the high profile David Headley probe. On paper if one looks at it the NIA has managed to solve just one case- the bomb explosion at a bus depot in Kozhikode, Kerala, in 2006. The other high profile cases that the NIA has on its hand are the Mecca Masjid, Malegaon, Delhi High Court blasts case among others.

When the NIA was formed after the horrific 26/11 attacks there was a great deal of hope and it was expected that it would solve each and every case pertaining to terrorism in no time. However that has not been the case and on many occasions it has been found that the NIA has been left clueless and not to mention the delay in cracking cases.

However it would be unfair to blame the NIA entirely for this slow progress rate. It has had its share of problems and more often than not it has found to be undoing a mess caused by shoddy investigators. The Mecca Masjid, Samjautha and Malegaon cases are a typical example of this. First the Muslims were arrested in these cases and now the investigations have taken a turn around. The NIA is too busy clearing this mess. When the NIA took over the files there was not an inkling as to who the real culprit was. First a process of discharging the innocent took place and only then did the real investigation begin. Any investigator worth his salt would point out that it is difficult to probe a case in which the accused has been given years together to flee. The main culprits in the above mentioned cases have had nearly 5 years to wipe out evidence, move out of the country and also mislead investigators thanks to the fact that the first investigators were too busy probing a completely wrong angle to the case.

Take the case of David Headley and also Tawwahur Rana. The NIA faced similar problems as they were at the mercy of the United States of America. All the information that could trickle by came out only when the US wanted it. Moreover the US had permitted Headley to enter into a plea bargain which was probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the NIA. Moreover after waiting for months they managed to get access and Headley refused to speak even a sentence more than what he had already told the FBI. Hence the entire case was built up based on what was already known.

Now coming to the fresh cases such as the 13/7 and also the Delhi High Court blasts. Not much progress was really made and even today the investigators remain clueless. At first the NIA was roped in to probe the 13/7 case. But then they ran into problems with the Maharashtra ATS as a result of which the NIA backed out. After all these tussles that took place almost three months had passed and investigators started from scratch and the worst part is that both agencies had different information which was never really shared thanks to this fight. Even in the Delhi High Court blasts despite the government stating that the NIA would probe this case, the Delhi police probed this case simultaneously. Once again the information was not shared and this led to a hazy probe.

Radha Vinod Raju who was the first chief of the NIA had said in an earlier interview with that the cases taken by the NIA are tough to crack. The NIA needs to collect evidence before taking action and should not arrest suspects only to deflect pressure.  The NIA comprises officers who have had exposure to terrorism and terror-related case. They are a committed lot and there is sincerity in their approach towards work. The output of their effort clearly reflects their enthusiasm. In this respect, it’s the best investigating agency that India has seen so far.
C D Sahay, former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing points out that the NIA is very essential to deal with crimes with ramifications all over the country.

For it to succeed it must be empowered and enabled not only through federal legislations, but by a change of heart amongst all investigating agencies across the country. In Delhi and also the 13/7 case there was an issue about dealing with cases. The NIA remained a spectator. This territorial approach will not allow any organisation to function properly.

We should try out the American experience where the agency is involved in every aspect of the investigation right from collection of evidence to prosecution. Sadly in India the bureaucracy gets involved in a turf war where none should exist. I really hope I am proven wrong for the betterment of the system.

More evidence, more delays and the Headley case

The Home Ministry a couple of days back informed that the probe regarding David Headley has been completed. However there continues to be a slight delay where the filing of the chargesheet is concerned.

Sources informed that the case of David Headley is quite an easy one when compared to the Tawwahur Rana case. Headley’s case largely rests on the confession made by him and this has helped investigating agencies to build up a strong case. However today the NIA is waiting for some more documents from the United States of America and only once that reaches them will the chargesheet be filed.

A source in the NIA said that the emails and other transcripts used by Headley are with them. However the biggest problem in order to make it a water tight case would be the voice samples which unfortunately are in Pakistan. It is not so much of an issue to file the chargesheet against Headley since the case against him individually is a water tight one. The issue remains the others especially those in the Pakistan establishment who were connected with Headley and this is where the reliance on the other countries come into the picture.

The NIA says that Pakistan has agreed in principle to hand over the voice samples. The case to this effect is in court and a lot would depend on that. It is to be seen how much an influence the ISI would have on the judicial procedures, because the agency would try its best to avoid these voice samples getting out Pakistan since the entire focus would be on them. The US will however play a vital role in this exercise and it is to be seen whether they would lead this exercise to persuade Pakistan to hand over the voice samples to India. The NIA says that it is however not too hopeful that it would get the voice samples, but they would continue to make efforts.

The NIA has with it all the details regarding the trips made by Headley to India. The persons who he met with and those who he had sought help from. However the evidence has not been too forthcoming on any of the local contacts that Headley had been in touch with and the fact of the matter is that no one really knew what he was up to. There were many persons with whom Headley had interacted in India, but during the trial all these persons will be turned into witnesses who would in turn have to testify against Headley.

There is a confession by Headley in which he speaks about his India tour. The issue however is that the Indian law is a bit linient towards persons who have confessed to their crime. However this would not be sufficient for the NIA since they would want a harsh order against him. Although it would not be possible to sentence him since he has a plea bargain not to be shifted out of the US, they would still like to make a strong statement on this case since this is really their first Big case.

There are aspects of Headley’s confession which do not make the role of the Pakistani establishment very clear. In fact he has been edgy and chosen to avoid a lot of things. This is where the real role of the NIA began and they started to build up their own case with regard to Headley’s association with the Pakistani establishment. While bringing out this aspect during the trial in India, the court would realise that Headley’s confession reeks in malafide and the order against him would be strong.

In this regard India does find the need to wait for more evidence from the US and if possible from Pakistan. They have sent letters to Pakistan, but at the end of it would request the US to pressurise it to get them that bit of evidence regarding the voice samples which is very crucial to the case.

NIA sources say that unless and until there is clarity regarding this aspect they would not want to go ahead with the chargesheet. We want one final chargesheet and do not want to file one immediately and then go in for an additional one.

Another issue that the NIA has been discussing is that they would want the Rana and the Headley case to be part of the same chargesheet. Their cases are inter connected and their offenses committed in India are inter-linked and it is not as though both have been on separate assignments.

The NIA says where Rana is concerned the documents are expected to take a while longer. Moreover they have not managed to get access to him as yet and that would be possible only once his appeal is complete. Rana has only played the role of a second fiddle to Headley. Although we would prefer to file the chargesheet against the two of them together, we would still take a final call on that depending on how long the Rana case takes. If we get the remainder of the Headley documents early and find that the Rana case is taking too long then we may just go ahead with the chargesheet and the Rana aspect could be added in the additional chargesheet attached to the main one.

As of now the case that has been booked against Headley is the one pertaining to waging a war against the country. He has already pleaded guilty on 12 charges. However the case against Rana on conspiracy was dismissed and an appeal is on at the moment.

Maj Iqbal-David Headley & the money trail

Tracking down Major Iqbal will be a tough task ahead for Indian investigating agencies probing the David Headley link to the 26/11 attack. While the Chicago court which tried Tawwahur Rana didn’t make any noise about the likes of Major Iqbal and their involvement in this attack, the National Investigating Agency says that the money transaction between the Major and Headley will be a crucial link to the investigation.

Even as Pakistan continues to deny the existence of a Major Iqbal, the NIA is sure that this is the man who has played a major role in the attack. The money trail for the recee conducted by Headley is an important link in this case. This angle to the probe brings back the question regarding fake currency and how it continues to dominate each and every possible terrorist funding.

Investigations into the Headley link to the 26/11 attack show that the Major had handed over 25000 dollars and also fake Indian currency of the like sum to Headley when he was surveying targets for the attack. The attacks were carried out on high profile targets and hence Major Iqbal of the ISI wanted to ensure that Headley moved around with the elite. The account by Headley is a testimony to the fact as to how he moved around with the elite when going about his job.

Headley got in touch with customers at Moksh, he stayed over at the Taj and all this has cost him a lot of money investigators point out.

The money which was transferred to Headley was through a Hawala transaction. A certain amount of the money was handed over to him personally while the rest was arranged to be delivered on arrival at India.

Headley who was paid in dollars did not have to go through the ordeal of exchanging fake currency. The fake currency is usually transported into India and then exchanged with a point man. This now throws open an interesting challenge to the investigators since it becomes obvious that there was another person in India who went about doing this job for Headley. The money had landed in from Pakistan and then the fake currency was changed at a 2:1 ratio. The interesting part would be who exactly changed this money for Headley which once again throw open the interesting question regarding a local link.

The investigating agencies have put under the scanner several hawala operators and touts who change money for terrorist operations. There is an indepth investigation on as to who in particular carried out this job for Headley, sources also point out.

Now coming back to Major Iqbal, it will require some expertise to nab this person. While the money trail would be one way of proving the existence of this man and also his location, the other ways would involve deriving voice samples and also another round of interrogation of Headley.

India will exercise all the options available to them. Indian investigators say that the voice samples which they have been seeking from Pakistan may not come after all. This places reliance on the law suit filed by the family of the slain Israeli couple where the ISI is under the scanner. India which is planning on joining the law suit is looking to put forth a strong case against Iqbal so that the court does take cognisance of the same and summons him to New York. However India will be cautious before it joins that suit in New York since it would be a party to the suit only if it has a lot of evidence in the case. It should not become a wasted exercise is what a source in the Home Ministry says about India’s participation in the law suit.

The voice samples which Pakistan had promised to provide India is another option that the NIA is exploring. While the pressure to get the voice samples have not worked either through diplomatic or judicial pressure, India is expecting the US to play a more crucial part in this. India would seek the assistance of Pakistan to get the voice samples as it is necessary for the investigation, sources also added.

National Investigating Agency sources say that they would be exploring the option of interrogating Headley once again, considering that the US has said that it could be a possibility if India did make that demand. The last time around the questions were pretty general in nature and this time it is expected to be more specific. There is an absolute need to nail the likes of Major Iqbal and Headley is the man who can detail him and help out Indian investigators.

Rana trial- the men who got away

Sajid Mir. Photo courtesy: Domain-b
The much hyped up trial of Tawwahur Rana has finally come to a close and one could say with confidence it did not end the way in which many would have expected it to end.

Indian agencies have been saying that the bigger disappointment regarding this trial has not just been the acquittal of Rana. The more important aspects with regard to the likes of Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal not even finding a mention is what India is really disappointed about.

Getting some clarity regarding Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal was extremely crucial and all hopes were on this court at Chicago to give that clarity. We wonder why David Headley stopped short of speaking more about these two men who he repeatedly interacted with during his mission, an official in the Intelligence Bureau said.

Rana’s acquittal has hurt India, but it is not the end of the road, since we do have our own independent investigation. However it was extremely crucial for the Court to have made some observations on Mir and Iqbal. These are men who are part of the Pakistani establishment and more importantly they are hiding in that country and we all know what the issues are when it comes to accessing those men.

Going by the testimony of Headley where he starts off with promise and then back tracks, it only goes on to show what a skilled and trained operative he was. At the end of it he only said what he already had and has not diverted even an inch.

The IB says that the entire 26/11 attack was sponsored by the Pakistani establishment. It is one thing when we deal with individuals such as Rana and Headley. The job was made easier since they were in the United States of America which in turn assures us of a chance of questioning them. It would have been a different story altogether if they were holed up in Pakistan.

While dealing with matters pertaining to terrorism, it becomes extremely difficult when a particular country is directly involved in the attack. While India does realise the role played by the establishment in this attack, it was extremely important that even the United States did. Major Iqbal is a part of the establishment while Sajid Mir is a global terrorist. These are the kind of people who need to be dealt with international pressure and this verdict would have been the idea platform to deal with such persons. Moreover it was important for the court to recognise the role played by these men and had that been done, then the case for India would have been easier.

The likes of Mir and Iqbal do figure in the dossiers that India has sent to Pakistan. Today Pakistan can simply reject these names on the pretext that there has been no finding by a US court. It is also a well known fact that they would subscribe to a view of the US court rather than India’s demand.

The fact that these very important names were not mentioned at the end of the trial literally gives them a clean chit and only strengthens them to go about their activities. Now India will have put up a very strong case and also implead itself at the law suit in New York to prove the guilt of the ISI. There is a lot of home work that the Indian investigators will have to do in order to nail the ISI link to the case. Also India could hope that there would be a mention about these persons when Rana goes on appeal.

Speaking of Mir and Iqbal, the former comes across as a more dangerous person. A person like Iqbal will not be used for another attack since Pakistan cannot let the names of its officers come out again. However Mir is the one that the world needs to worry about, the IB says. He has a very selective set of skills which has helped him emerge into a global terrorist. He will continue to nurture many more David Headleys and he has been assigned a very key job to ensure that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba turns into a global outfit.

Rana verdict-NIA not deterred

The National Investigating Agency which is probing the David Headley-Tawwahur Rana angle to the 26/11 case appears not to be deterred by the verdict at Chicago. We were never basing our investigations completely on the case built up the United States and we have been conducting our own investigation ever since these two links to the attack had come out, sources in the NIA said.

Although the NIA has taken a couple of leads from the investigation conducted in the United States of America, the probe in India has been by and large independent. However there may a slight delay in the case of Rana since the man’s attorney has indicated that they would prefer an appeal before a higher court. When the legal process is on, the US may not grant immediate access to Rana, sources also pointed out.

The investigations that have been conducted by the NIA have more aspects when compared to the US investigation. The investigation in the US dealt with the broader role which is alleged to have been played by Rana for the 26/11 attack. However since it was a crime that was committed in India, the NIA has been dealing with the finer aspects of the case.

The NIA has so far managed to establish that it was Rana who had provided a cover for David Headley as a result of which the latter could go about his business unabated. The NIA says that had Rana not provided the cover as sought by David Headley, it would have been virtually impossible for him to go about scouting targets in India. He The question that would however require to be answered is how much of Headley’s plan did Rana know. The NIA says that investigations have shown that Rana was in the know of Headley’s plan. We will need to question Rana on these aspects and build our case. However as of now it looks like a clear case of criminal conspiracy under Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 120(b) reads thus: Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence will be punished with death, rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards.

The NIA says that in the wake of this verdict, the manner in which this case would dealt with will not change. The questionnaire that has been prepared will be untouched and once we get access, we will still ask the same questions. It is clear that nothing new has come out of this trial, but that does not mean we cannot proceed with our line of the investigation.

During the questioning of Rana, it is extremely crucial for the NIA to establish the link he had with Headley. If they are able to do so with Rana’s statements, then it puts to rest a major part of the case. The light at the end of the tunnel for the NIA is that part of the court verdict which finds Rana guilty of helping Lashkar-e-Tayiba cadres. This part of the probe would be crucial too since the NIA will seek to find out more on the Lashkar/Rana and the Indian connection. The NIA would also look to probe the Rana visit to Kochi. The questionnaire would be more or less based on the questions that the NIA asked David Headley.

However there is a lot of paper work that remains before India can finally seek access to Rana. At the moment the Home Ministry has handed over a couple of documents to the NIA. At the moment, there is no official word from the US regarding the permission to question Rana. This will need to be done through diplomatic channels, but the US does not have any case to deny us the right to question him considering the fact that his actions have affected India. While India is hopeful of getting access to Rana, the only issue may be the slight delay since Rana has indicated that he would prefer an appeal.

Rana-will article 20 play spoil sport?

As expected there was a set back for India in the Tawwahur Rana case. However India continues to be optimistic, but the issue would be that there would be a lot of legal juggling now involved in order to proceed with this case.

Speaking to legal experts on this particular case, one gets to know that the trial in India against Rana can go on as usual. The verdict of the US court will have absolutely no precedent or bearing on the investigation over here.

For starters, Rana could not have been tried in the US court for an offence committed in India, legal experts in India say. This verdict should not have any impact on our individual case, says Justice Santosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court of India. This verdict may have an influence on our legal system, but there is no precedent that our judicial system ought to abide by the verdict of the US court.

However the biggest worry for the Indian agencies is the provision mandated under Article 20 of the Indian constitution. It makes it clear that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence as it will amount to double jeopardy. Although India will go ahead with its investigation and ultimately file a chargesheet against Rana, the question is whether Rana’s legal team will make use of the provisions under Article 20. The charges levelled in the US and also in India are almost the same. He was accused of aiding David Headley to stage the 26/11 attack. The US court has not found any merit in that argument.

With regard to Article 20, legal experts point out that there should not be any problem for India to try him once again for the same offence. Even if Rana is to put forth that argument, India can always argue back stating that he was tried in the US for an offence committed in India and this itself is not acceptable to us. This is a matter which will be debated largely in the legal circles over the days to come since it is expected to come up once a chargesheet is filed by the National Investigating Agency.

Looking at the legal provisions available at the moment, there does not appear to be any set precedent on this aspect of the case. At the moment it seems as though there will not be any problem for us to try Rana in India. The only issue will be the impact the Rana case will have in the international community which more or less treats the verdict of a US court as the gospel truth. However legal experts say that all these factors ought not to deter the Indian agencies and they should just go ahead with whatever case they have on hand. The aim should be to put up a strong case and ensure that he is convicted for his offence in India in relation with the 26/11 attack.

How did Muzamil Bhat get away?

As the Tawwahur Rana trial draws to a close, there will always be a big question mark on the one man who got away during this entire proceeding. The name of Muzamil Bhat who today without a doubt is one of the biggest operatives in the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been given a miss.

David Headley the man who has been doing all the talking during the Chicago trial has remained surprisingly quiet about Muzamil. Investigations in India at least have clearly shown the links between the two men despite which this name figures no where during the trial.

Bhat was not some low level operative. He is the man who imparted training to all the ten terrorists who staged the 26/11 attack. Indian investigations clearly go on to show that he had not only trained them in combat but had also given them the specifics of the targets to be attacked as well as how they were supposed to take control of the targets.

This is exactly where the Headley-Bhat link begins. Headley was the man in possession of all the data regarding the targets. During his visit to Pakistan following the recee, he has met with Bhat and discussed the targets based on which the training was imparted to the ten terrorists. This gives a clear indication that there was a close link between the two of them.

The case pertaining to Bhat has not been easy for any of the investigators. Indian investigators too have found it very hard to build a strong case against him. The United States too have faced the same problem and moreover Headley is very quiet regarding Bhat.

Immediately after the attack, the name of Bhat had done the rounds several times. Prior to this attack the intelligence intercepts on him all emerged from the Valley since he was one of the primary warriors for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba over there. A master at combat, he has risen to very high ranks in the Lashkar. In fact the Intelligence Bureau says that he was second to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi in the Lashkar ranks. This fact was proven when he immediately took over as operational chief of the outfit the moment Lakhvi was sent behind bars. Pakistan claims that it has arrested Bhat too, but his name does not figure anywhere in their investigations which they are supposedly doing on the very same case.

The question now is why there is so much mystery surrounding Bhat. The IB says that there is a manner in which each operative is trained to speak. When Headley was trained by the ISI, he would have been clearly told whose names to reveal and whose not to reveal in case he is arrested. The IB also says that Muzamil Bhat was a name which they wanted to protect very badly and hence there is very little being spoken about him. Moreover the ISI was aware that once the investigations commence, the usual suspects would have been Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi. They were also aware that there would have been pressure on arresting them. In such an event, it would have become very difficult for the operations to run and hence they needed some names especially of those who are second in command to be concealed.

The Indian case on Muzamil Bhat too is not all that strong. There is not really much information that has generated on this man. India will need access to more data such as the voice samples, the call records between Headley and his handlers in order to build up a stronger case against Bhat.

Today Bhat according to the IB is at Muzafarabad and is running a new camp of the Lashkar. Such things only make the case even more difficult because according to Pakistan he has been arrested. It is very difficult to argue on that, Indian agencies say. They have done the same with Sajid Mir and the case is similar where Bhat is concerned. The fact that Bhat was a close contact of Headley is something that needs to be established. Further details on this are expected to come out once the NIA questions Rana and if possible Headley once again.

India has however decided not to wait for any other court to pass a verdict on Bhat. We will have to conduct our own investigations and the NIA chargesheet will take Bhat’s name so that he is tried in India at least. For India he was a crucial link in the 26/11 attack since he is the man who trained all the terrorists.

Headley’s flip flops, Rana’s silence hurts the Indian case

Photo courtesy:
As the Chicago court prepares its verdict in the Tawwahur Rana case, Indian agencies wait with bated breath for the result. Speaking to some of the persons who have been watching this trial closely, one gets the impression that it has been quite a damp squib. What they have to say is this-“we expected more on the ISI angle to the case and at the start it looked promising. However over a period of time, it started to fizzle out and the case is back to the basic facts which were already known.”

For India, nailing the ISI link is extremely crucial since this appears to be the toughest part of the case. There is enough and more evidence against the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and its players and this is a fact that has been accepted world over.

However it would be a fitting case if both Headley and Rana had spoken with the same steam about the ISI links to the 26/11 attack. Around 15 days before the trial, Rana had confessed that he was an operative of the ISI and it was the agency which staged the entire attack. However this confession was not admitted in the court. India did expect Rana to speak out the same thing during the trial, but he decided to sit mum and await the court verdict on him. Headley too had started off with the same vigour about the ISI, but then completely turned it on the Lashkar towards the end of his testimony.

Indian agencies say that this turn around has hurt the Indian case. If the two of them had stuck to their earlier versions regarding the ISI, then the court would have had something to say about the ISI role. When it comes in the form of a verdict especially from a court in the United States of America it always carries more weight. We know for a fact that not only a part of the ISI was involved in the case. Although Headley claims that only a few majors were involved in it, there is no way in which the ISI top bosses did not know about it.

However India does not want to lose hope in this case. A consultation process is underway to implead India in the law suit at New York filed by the relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka who were killed at the Chabad House. In the suit they have said that the ISI has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups, including the Lashkar to accomplish its goals and has provided material support to the outfit and other international terrorist groups.

India will pin its hopes on this case since the New York court appears to have taken the case against the ISI more seriously when compared to the Chicago court. The court had issued summons to the ISI officials as well as leaders of the Lashkar. However there appears to be some procedural hassles at the moment with Pakistan deciding to go all out in defending its spy agency. However Indian agencies say that should not be too much of a worry since everyone has a right to defend themselves.

While the consultation process is underway on whether to implead in this case or not, a final decision would be only be taken once Rana verdict is out.

India does have some expectations out of the Rana trial, the conviction of Rana being the first. They would also like to see stringent action being sought against the ISI officials and also the court making an observation on the larger role that the spy agency from Pakistan played during this attack.

Home Secretary, G K Pillai points out that Rana’s conviction would establish the credibility of an ISI link in the case. These papers would then go to the New York court and this would add to the pressure.

At the moment there are two opinions about joining the suit at New York. India does feel the need to speak out its version on the ISI in a US court. However the only danger would be if that court does not find fault with the ISI, then India does tend to weaken its case in the international community. However the opinion is that India should be willing to take that risk.

A final decision can be expected in the next 20 days. Once the verdict at Chicago is out and the case papers are studied, would a final decision on joining the suit come out, sources also added.

What does Rana have in store?

The allegations levelled by the prosecution in Chicago against Tawwahur Rana is very similar to the information that the National Investigating Agency has collected on the man. The prosecution in its closing arguments made it clear that it was Rana who helped his friend David Headley carry out the 26/11 attack.
Sources in the NIA say that the charges against Rana levelled by the prosecution is similar to what we have on him. He had opened a branch office of his immigration law business which is said to have provided cover for Headley when he went about scouting targets for the 26/11 attacks.
NIA sources however say that they were looking for more information and this was supposed to come out of the horse’s mouth. Our independent investigations have shown that Rana had constantly helped Headley in his endevours. The NIA which will probe Rana after the completion of the trial at Chicago will book him on criminal conspiracy charges, sources said.
However there is one interesting point made by the prosecution during the course of the arguments at Chicago. The prosecution apart from speaking about the 26/11 attack had also claimed that both Rana and Headley had plans for the future as well. The prosecution makes a clear mention that the duo had future goals as well.
The NIA says that during their investigations, they have found that both of them had most of their plans in India. Although the ISI was using both these men for global operations, the maximum data that they have managed to collect has been on India. Rana had not helped Headley only for the 26/11 attack, but he had assisted him in each of his other operations, be it in Delhi or even Pune. The agreement between the two was very clear. Headley had been trained to scout targets while Rana an expert with documents helped him cover his operations. The fact of the matter is that Rana was always in the know of what Headley was up to and they reported to the same handlers in Pakistan.
However when the NIA manages to get permission to interrogate Rana, the questioning would be three pronged. The most important one would be pertaining to the 26/11 attack which would be followed by his ISI links. However for the NIA, the questioning regarding his future operations will also be extremely crucial. The NIA has in its possession certain documents relating to Rana’s visit to Kochi.
A team of the NIA which has been working on this aspect of the case say that he had visited Kochi in Kerala. IGP of the NIA, Loknath Behra had said that there was a headway made in this direction of the probe and in due course of time the details will be made known.
Sources however add that his purpose of the Kochi visit was clearly to conduct a recee. There were locals in Kochi who have helped Rana. Investigations till date show that his visit was more of an exercise to lay the ground work. When one looks at the Rana visit in the light of the statement by Ilyas Kashmiri, it does make sense that this man visited Kerala. Kashmiri had clearly stated that he wanted cadres from Kerala to carry out his ambitious Ghazb-e-Hind project. Moreover Kashmiri was also in touch with Headley and their proximity is not something that is unknown.
Rana had visited Kochi under the guise of an immigration consultant. All through he was acting as per the instructions of the ISI. Sources also add that he may have set up fronts in Kerala like how he did for Headley so that terror cadres could carry out operations under cover. The fact that he conducted a recee is yet to be ascertained since Rana was not trained to do that.
The NIA says that his visit to Kerala was for a specific purpose. His interrogation would reveal the exact details. When Rana was in Kerala, he had placed an advertisement in a local paper inviting visa seekers to both the US and Canada. This according to investigating agencies was a cover up and this front was possibly used to get cadres under one umbrella which Kashmiri was speaking about.

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26/11- Will India will push Pak now?
With the trial in the 26/11 case on in full swing at Chicago, United States of America, the big question is whether India can make the push against Pakistan which it has been looking to do for a long time now? Indian authorities who have made it clear that their stand has been vindicated following the confessions of David Headley have maintained that they are examining the trial on a day to day basis and a report in this regard is being prepared.
The National Investigating Agency which has been under immense pressure to file a chargesheet in this case however says that there is no hurry and they would want to prepare a fool proof case. A precedent would be laid while this chargesheet is filed and there shall be absolutely no loop holes what so ever. Earlier, Home Secretary G K Pillai had pointed out that it could be possible that they may join the law suit in the United States of America. However there is no decision on that as yet and Home Minister, P Chidamabaram has stated that there is no decision on this matter as yet. However it seems unlikely that India may join the law suit in the US. On obtaining advise from legal experts on this matter, India has realised that in case they join the law suit in the US, then any decision would be binding on them. Although the Indian law does not have any provision that they should abide by the decision of the US court, they are still aware that any decision would be largely acceptable by the international community. Take for instance, India does lose its case in the US, there is an option to go ahead with our own trial. But the problem is that the international community would largely subscribe to the verdict of the US court and this would create problems when we try and exert pressure on Pakistan. As an official puts it, “more often than not, the world considers the verdict of a US court as the sole and gospel truth.”
While there is no doubt that the NIA would go and interrogate Rana once the trial is over, the other push that India is making is to send a judicial commission to Pakistan. Pakistan was to send a similar commission to India in the middle of May, but there has been no communication from them as yet. Sources say that there is no time frame fixed as yet with regard to the date of the visit of the commission. We would wait for the Rana trial at Chicago to conclude before we send the commission.
The commission which will visit Pakistan has a very crucial role to play. The most important job of the commission would be to verify the voice samples of the various handlers and terrorists involved in the 26/11 attack. We have heard the names of Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal, Samir Ali and the rest. However the verification of the voice samples is extremely crucial to our case, sources also point out. Although unlikely, the Indian judicial commission would look to interrogate some of the prime accused in this case. The chances are bleak since Pakistan will try and avoid any interrogation. In such a scenario, the commission would seek the interrogation and investigation report of these accused which also include, Zaki-ur-Rehma Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed.
The report of the commission would then be shared with the NIA, which in turn would use to file their chargesheet following which the trial will be held.
Meanwhile India continues to keep a close tab on the ongoing trial at Chicago. There has been a bit of bad news with Rana’s attorney suggesting that his client may not take to the box. This would mean that his role in the attack could be known only through cross examination and also the final order of the court. India expected him to speak about the role of the ISI and also had hoped that he would stick to his earlier version where he had said that he was an operative of the ISI and not the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. While this has been a bit of a set back, India is still pinning its hopes on its independent interrogation of Rana. The interrogation would be done only once the trial is completed. Indian agencies say that the forthcoming visit by Hillary Clinton in July. Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs had indicated that apart from the Pakistan problem, the talks in July would focus on the Headley/ Rana case. India will look to make a push for the interrogation and also possible extradition of Rana during the visit by Hillary Clinton, sources in the MEA also pointed out.