Homeland Security

The case against Rana
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By B Raman
Issue Net Edition | Date : 13 Jun , 2011

Headley undertook his two visits to Denmark and five pre-26/11 visits to India posing as a representative of an immigration consultancy service, which Rana ran from Chicago. He had kept Rana informed of his posing as the representative of the consultancy service and asked him, after a visit to Denmark, to corroborate the statements made by him to his interlocutors in Denmark regarding his links with Rana’s service. The fact that Rana agreed to this shows his concurrence to Headley using the cover of being a representative of his service for his operational visits to Denmark and India to collect pre-attack information. Rana booked the air tickets for Headley for his two visits to Denmark.

There is no information or evidence to indicate that Headley and Rana travelled to India together or were in India at the same time and were in touch with each other during their stay in India. According to Indian media reports, during a visit to Kerala, Rana had published an advertisement in a local newspaper offering the services of his company for intending Indian applicants for a US visa. Neither Headley nor Rana would seem to have indicated in any way that the immigration consultancy service in Chicago for which they claimed to be working was one and the same.

According to the FBI’s first affidavit against Rana, on or about September 25, 2009, Rana spoke by telephone with the Consul General at the Pakistani Consulate-General in Chicago in an effort to obtain a 5-year visa for Headley to travel to Pakistan. It was clear from email traffic unrelated to terrorist plotting that the Consul- General knew Rana and Headley personally as all three attended the same high school. However, the Consul General knew Headley as Gilani. He was not aware that Gilani, his old schoolmate, had become Headley since February, 2006. In seeking a visa for Headley, Rana stated that he wished to obtain the visa for a white American named Headley who did not have any Pakistani background at all. When the Consul-General suggested that Rana send this white American to the consulate, Rana explained that he had sent his friend elsewhere to take care of some unspecified business so that someone else would visit the consulate. The FBI told the court in its affidavit that “It is clear from the foregoing conversation that Rana was attempting to deceive the Consul- General into granting a visa for Headley without the Consul- General knowing for whom the visa would be issued.”

According to the second report against Rana filed by the FBI in the court, he was in India in the third week of November, 2008. He flew from Mumbai to Dubai on a flight of the Emirates Airlines on November 21, 2008. He flew from Dubai to China by the same Airlines on November, 24, 2008, and from there returned to Chicago via Seoul on November 26, 2008, by the Asiana Airlines.

There is no reason to believe that Headley was in India during this period. The last of his five pre-26/11 visits to India was in July, 2008. It is not clear when did Rana arrive in India in November, 2008, which places he visited and whom he met. It is also not clear which city he visited in China, what was the purpose of his visit to China and why his visit to China was so short.

Rana had admitted to the FBI that during his visit to Dubai from November 21 to 24, 2008, he met Maj. (retd) AbdurRehmanHashim Syed alias Pasha who was in touch with Ilyas Kashmiri on behalf of Headley and that he came to know from Pasha about the impending terrorist attacks by the LET in Mumbai. Rana sought to convey an impression that his visit (or visits?) to India had nothing to do with the 26/11 attacks and that he came to know of the planned attacks only from Pasha in Dubai a few days before the attacks. He did not alert the FBI about the impending terrorist attacks

At the same time, it is clear from the papers filed by the FBI in the court that Rana personally knew both the handling officers of Headley in Pakistan—- Maj (retd) AbdurRehman of the 313 Brigade and Sajjid Mir of the LET. It is also clear that Rana was fully aware at least on September 7, 2009, if not earlier, of the LET’s plans for future attacks on four targets in India.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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