India plans to seek access and eventual extradition of a Chicago man arraigned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, a top Indian official said Thursday.
David Coleman Headley is accused of conducting surveillance on sites in Mumbai targeted in the November 2008 attacks that killed 166 people, and passing on the information to handlers in the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group in Pakistan. On Wednesday in Chicago, Headley pleaded not guilty to charges that he was involved in the attacks.
Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai said investigators from the FBI who were in New Delhi earlier this week had shared information on Headley. He said India's National Investigation Agency, or NIA, was expected to complete its investigations into Headley's links with the terror attacks over the next few weeks, after which New Delhi would seek his extradition.
"We will definitely be seeking access both for interrogation and at a subsequent stage for his extradition," Pillai said.
The two countries have an extradition treaty, signed in 1997.
Indian officials say the attacks on India's financial hub were plotted by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan. The only surviving gunman, a Pakistani, is currently on trial in India. Seven others have been indicted in Pakistan on charges of planning and helping to execute the attacks.
The FBI team was in Pakistan on Thursday for discussions on information gathered from questioning Headley and his associate, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian national.
Pillai said the FBI has been given a set of questions by India and hoped the FBI would seek answers to these from their Pakistani counterparts.
India's Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday that Headley's arraignment by the FBI had exposed the wider conspiracy behind the Mumbai attacks.
Groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaida were still active in Pakistan and were plotting new acts of terrorism, targeting India as well as other countries, the ministry said in a statement. It demanded Pakistan act against such groups.