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Copy of a passport of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, arrested by the FBI on terror charges.
Copy of a passport of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, arrested by the FBI on terror charges.

Ottawa aiding India in Mumbai massacre probe Add to ...

Canada is helping investigators in India with their probe of the Mumbai massacre, and the possible involvement of a Canadian in one of the worst terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.

Counterterrorism agencies in New Delhi are seeking information from federal authorities about Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a 48-year-old Canadian immigration consultant who was arrested last month in Chicago with an alleged U.S. accomplice, David Headley, 49.

More Related to this Story

U.S. prosecutors have publicly alleged both men, childhood friends originally from Pakistan, hatched a plot to kill a Danish journalist who published cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. Yet in India, suspicions are emerging that the two men helped a notorious Pakistani terrorist group scout Indian and Western targets before last year's massacre of nearly 200 civilians.



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Leaked details of the Indian counterterrorism investigation suggest Mr. Rana used his Canadian passport to travel to Mumbai in the days before the Nov. 26 attacks, and ended up in Karachi.

The same reports suggest Mr. Headley (who recently Westernized his name from "Daood Gilani") was also in Karachi on the day of the strike.

Canadian federal officials would not discuss details of their investigative help yesterday. Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, said in an interview only that "we are co-operating with the Indian government to combat terrorism."

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who yesterday visited a Mumbai synagogue that was targeted in the terrorist strike, went out of his way to denounce the attacks. "Innocent citizens of this very city were subjected to outrageous acts of terror that shocked the world," he said after his visit to the synagogue. "These acts are acts which all peoples, which Canadians, Indians and all civilized people, utterly condemn."

Ten terrorist gunmen had targeted the Chabad House synagogue and specific hotels frequented by Westerners. They are thought to have deployed from Karachi, using dinghies to land at Mumbai before breaking off into two-man teams to attack their targets.

The gunmen are not thought to have scouted Mumbai themselves. Yet they were so well organized that Indian authorities were powerless to prevent more than 180 civilians from being gunned down as the world watched.

The ranks of the dead included Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, discovered at the synagogue with their two-year-old son weeping over their bodies. "Such vile, barbaric acts is the motivation behind our contributions to the international effort in Afghanistan," Mr. Harper said yesterday.

The Mumbai attacks were hatched by the self-described "Army of the Pure," or Lashkar-e-Taiba, increasingly regarded as a jihadist threat similar to the Taliban.

For years, Lashkar-e-Taiba had acted as a proxy militia as Pakistani intelligence sought to carve out a buffer zone from disputed territories in Kashmir. The network has shown a recent inclination toward launching al-Qaeda-style attacks across India.

Ottawa blacklisted Lashkar in 2004, which allows the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP to probe its support and financing networks, and better assist allies who ask for investigative help.

Fighting the terrorism group is a growing priority after last year's massacre. Yet as the one-year Nov. 26 anniversary approaches, investigators are still trying to determine how the attacks were pulled off.

Some clues may be emerging.

Mr. Rana and Mr. Headley attended the same military school in Pakistan decades ago. Little is known about how they acquired citizenship in Canada and the United States respectively before both ending up in Chicago.

For years, Mr. Rana, the Canadian, operated a busy immigration consultancy in a South Asian enclave in Chicago.

The business is now under a microscope. The FBI seized its computers and documents when it arrested Mr. Rana last month. "Rana personally has engaged in recent, frequent international travel. Rana is fluent in documents necessary for immigration and border crossing," U.S. prosecutors argue in court documents filed ahead of a bail hearing on Thursday.

FBI wiretaps demonstrate Mr. Rana's "ability to engage in immigration fraud," prosecutors allege.

In India, authorities suggest Mr. Rana used his Canadian passport to travel to India immediately before the Mumbai massacre, with a multiple-entry visa typically denied to people born in Pakistan. One media account says the Indian consul-general in Chicago issued the visa on October, 2008, one month before the attacks.

Mr. Headley is said to have embarked on similarly timed travels to South Asia, allegedly claiming to be an immigration consultant himself. Indian authorities last weekend raided several hotels where he stayed.

This suggests a suspicion based on circumstantial evidence that Mr. Rana facilitated travel related to terrorism, and that Mr. Headley -- arrested in Chicago's O'Hare Airport Oct. 3 with a book titled How to Pray like a Jew - may have been the logistics man.

Indian authorities are said to be putting together an extradition case, but have yet to lay charges. The FBI's criminal complaint against the two men makes only fleeting mention of travels to South Asia.

Both men are alleged to have schemed with Lashkar-e-Taiba members in Pakistan to attack the Danish newspaper that mocked the Prophet Mohammed.

******

Al-Qaeda in Canada

Canada remains a haven for terrorists, a French counterterrorism judge says in a new tell-all book in which he discusses past frustrations in investigating an al-Qaeda cell in Montreal.

"In reality, the Canadians don't see the point of our investigation," magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere writes. "Their laws are very protective of individual liberty and they don't see the mounting threat of al-Qaeda.

"Al-Qaeda will exploit this to use this country as a base for launching its operations against the United States."

In the late 1990s, the voluble magistrate's powers of investigation led him to connect the dots between a group of Algerian extremists in Paris and a related cell in Montreal. The judge seized on Montreal resident Ahmed Ressam, and headed to Quebec to gumshoe around. The search effort, based on a series of addresses thought to belong to Mr. Ressam, met opposition from Canadian officials, the judge says in his book.

"From the time I arrived, we came up against a quasi-insurmountable obstacle: the Canadian authorities, barely co-operative, refuse to give us a search warrant!" Mr. Bruguiere laments in the 485-page book, Ce que je n'ai pas pu dire (What I could not say), presented in a Q&A format.

"Quebec also is home to a large Algerian community, in which there are radical elements ... as we had confirmed from interrogations of this movement's activists in France, and Canada doesn't want problems with its immigrant communities. To put it more clearly, our requests seem out of place. We are obviously sailing against the wind."

He recounts how he had to go as high as the Quebec Supreme Court to secure search warrants. Once he did, French officials "seized an address book belonging to Ressam where he had noted down the composition of explosive devices...," Mr. Bruguiere writes. But the judge says solid evidence he obtained did not lead to criminal charges in Canada.

Colin Freeze, with a report from Susan Sachs in Paris and Josh Wingrove in Toronto

 

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