Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Canadian linked to Mumbai attacks, PM confirms

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Canadian linked to Mumbai attacks, PM confirms

November 17, 2009

Rick Westhead


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen throw flower petals onto the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi during a ceremony in New Delhi, India.(November 17, 2009)


New Delhi–Canadian authorities are co-operating with the U.S. and India to investigate a Canadian terrorism suspect who may have been in Mumbai days before last year's attacks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday on the second day of his three-day visit to India, Harper confirmed he and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the case of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian, during their meetings here.

India has increased security measures at its 17 nuclear installations amid concerns that Rana, 48, and an alleged accomplice may have monitored them during visits to India.

"We worked very closely with our American friends in this matter and Prime Minister Singh and I certainly discussed the case and are resolved to co-operate closely in the future on these matters," Harper told reporters.

Singh declined to comment on the case specifically. "We had a very fruitful discussion in expanding areas of co-operation between our two countries in dealing with this scourge of international terrorism," he said.

Rana was charged in October with conspiring to murder a Danish newspaper cartoonist whose work depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a disrespectful manner.

Rana, who owns a Chicago immigration concern and a meat processing plant, was arrested after FBI agents found DVDs in his apartment that featured Osama bin Laden and promoted al-Qaida. He has not been charged in connection with the allegations of spying on India's nuclear installations.

U.S. prosecutors have said Rana and David Coleman Headley, an alleged co-conspirator also from Chicago, had also planned to target the National Defence College, a military school in New Delhi.

Rana has denied any wrongdoing.

Singh also assured Canadians that if Canada decides to allow its companies to sell uranium and nuclear technology to India, it will be used appropriately.

"We have entered into civil nuclear cooperation agreements with three counties: the U.S., Russia and France and we will do all that is within our power to ensure safety and security of our nuclear installations," Singh said. "There should be no doubt about that."

Canadian companies have been barred from selling nuclear materials or related services to India because it secretly used Canadian technology to develop its nuclear weapons program in 1974.

Harper insisted Canada has "great faith in our Indian friends and partners. We are not living in the 1970s. We are living in 2009."

The prime minister also met with a number of top India government officials Tuesday, including the foreign minister, the vice-president, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Indian National Congress Party.

In between, Harper and his wife Laureen visited the memorial site to Mahatma Ghandi, the father of modern India.

The prime minister inscribed the visitor's book calling Ghandi a "model for all humanity," then he and Laureen tossed rose petals on the spare, black marble monument.

With files from The Canadian Press

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