On 3-day Visit, FBI Director Christopher Wray Meets CBI Chief; Top Security, Intel Officials Next

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The US official’s visit to India comes against the backdrop of an alleged plot to kill a pro-Khalistan leader on American soil

FBI director Christopher Wray met CBI chief Praveen Sood on Monday to discuss key issues such as the extradition of suspects wanted by India and cyber-enabled financial crimes, with the US official’s visit coming against the backdrop of an alleged plot to kill a pro-Khalistan leader on American soil.

The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected to hold separate meetings with the heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, and visit the Delhi Police headquarters during his three-day visit.

Sood and Wray, people familiar with the matter said, discussed multiple issues, including the extradition of suspects wanted by India, faster responses to India’s judicial requests seeking information in cases, cyber-enabled financial crimes, and enhancing cooperation to counter terrorism and organised crimes.

Wray visited the CBI headquarters on Monday afternoon and also interacted with other senior officers of the agency.

“The meeting focused on strengthening exchange of information on criminal matters, for improved coordination in combating transnational crimes and sharing of expertise in investigation of technology enabled crimes. Both agencies recognised the challenges posed by organised crime networks, cyber enabled financial crimes, ransomware threats, economic crimes and transnational crimes. The need to expedite sharing of evidence and for closer assistance in bringing criminals and fugitives to face justice was deliberated. It was also discussed to exchange best practices of FBI Academy, Quantico and CBI Academy, Ghaziabad,” CBI spokesperson said in a statement.

“Director Wray’s visit signifies a step towards deepening cooperation and shared commitment to combat crime in all its manifestations in the spirit of international police cooperation. Both agencies agreed to look forward to future interactions and collaborative initiatives,” the spokesperson said.

The people cited above said on condition of anonymity that Wray’s meetings with Indian officials are expected to focus on topics under four broad pillars – homeland security, training and capacity building, extradition of persons wanted by India, and the activities of pro-Khalistan operatives in the US.

Within the context of homeland security, the issue of Indian nationals attempting to illegally enter the US through the country’s southern border and the deportation of individuals detained during such attempts are expected to figure in the interactions, the people said.

Against the backdrop of growing cooperation between India and the US on security-related issues, there has also been an increase in training and capacity building, the people said. “This includes more cooperation in matters such as exercises and training of personnel,” one of the people said.

The extradition from the US of suspects wanted by India is expected to figure in several of Wray’s meetings in New Delhi, the people said. As reported by HT, the extradition of 2008 Mumbai attacks co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana from the US is expected to be one of key topics that NIA chief Dinkar Gupta will take up with Wray.

A US court ordered the extradition of the Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman to India in May, but Rana was given time to file a motion against the judgement. Rana is accused of conspiring with David Coleman Headley in the planning of the Mumbai attacks, during which 166 people were killed by a 10-member team of terrorists from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The activities of pro-Khalistan elements and an indictment filed by US prosecutors in a federal court in Manhattan last month, which alleged an Indian government employee who described himself as a “senior field officer” responsible for intelligence had ordered the assassination of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, are also expected to figure in Wray’s meetings, the people said.

US principal deputy national security advisor Jonathan Finer, who visited New Delhi earlier this month, had informed his Indian interlocutors of the importance of holding accountable anyone found responsible for allegedly plotting to kill Pannun on American soil.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar told Parliament last week that India has set up an inquiry committee to look into inputs provided by the US in connection with the alleged plot to kill the Khalistani leader because the matter has a bearing on national security. The US inputs were of concern to India because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters, he said.

“Unlike CIA, there is no Indian organisation that can be described as a counterpart to FBI, and this is one of the reasons why the FBI chief is meeting people from several Indian organisations,” the person cited above said.

“Issues of mutual cooperation, sharing of information in critical cases, joint operations, mutual legal assistance treaty and extraditions, including those of Tahawwur Rana and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, will be part of the discussions,” an official told HT on Sunday.

Source: Hindustan Times