Did Rana facilitate terrorist entry into US and Canada?

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : Pakistan-born Canadian citizen Tahawwur Hussain Rana, suspected of having had a role in the Mumbai terror attacks, may have used his immigration consultancy service to help terrorists enter the US and Canada.

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Rana, 48, runs an immigration consultancy service in Chicago with offices in New York and Toronto. He was arrested Oct 3 for plotting to attack the Danish newspaper that published the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Reports have appeared that Rana might have used his immigration consultancy business to help terrorists enter Canada and the US. David Harris, a former officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said Rana might have used his immigration business as a front for terrorist activities and get extremists into Canada.

Rana, who immigrated to Canada in 1997 and acquired Canadian citizenship in 2001, was arrested along with David Headley — whose real name is Daood Gilani — for the plot. The two allegedly planned to kill the cartoonist and editor of Jyllands-Posten, with Headley travelling to Denmark to survey the scene before carrying out the attack.

Rana’s Canadian connections have been traced to the Kanata suburb of the Canadian capital Ottawa where he spends his Islamic holidays with his large family, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday. Though Rana lives and runs his business in Chicago with his wife, Samraz Akhtar Rana, two daughters and a son, he co-owns their Canadian home where his father, brother and brother’s wife live.

Rana’s brother Abbas is a journalist with Ottawa’s Hill Times newspaper where he writes the popular ‘Hill Climbers’ column on parliamentary staff changes. Though Abbas is on leave, his publisher Jim Creskey was quoted as saying that he is devastated by the news of his brother’s arrest.

He said: “Abbas had told us that he had no idea really why he (Rana) was arrested.”

The two Pakistani-origin men had also travelled to many cities in India just before the Mumbai terror attacks. Investigators in India and the US are now looking into possible connections between them and the 10 Pakistani terrorists who attacked Mumbai from Nov 26 to 29 last year, killing over 170 people.

A bail hearing for Rana and Headley in Chicago Thursday was postponed till Dec 2.