Canadian gets 14 years for supporting terrorists in Mumbai attack
Attorney Patrick Blegen and his client Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana are shown during Rana's sentencing in federal court Jan. 17, 2013 in Chicago. (AP / Tom Gianni)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 12:06PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:13PM EST
CHICAGO -- A Canadian businessman was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead.
The judge sentenced Tahawwur Rana in U.S. District Court in Chicago to the prison term followed by five years of supervised release.
The Pakistani-born Canadian declined to address the judge prior to sentencing. Rana, 52, faced a maximum 30 years in prison.
Jurors in 2011 convicted Rana of providing support for the Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and for supporting a never-carried-out plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet are prohibited in Islam.
But jurors cleared Rana of the third and most serious charge of involvement in the three-day rampage in Mumbai, India's largest city, which has often been called India's 9-11.
The government's star witness at Rana's trial was admitted terrorist David Coleman Headley, who had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks. The American-Pakistani testified against his school friend Rana to avoid the death penalty and extradition. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Chicago next week.
Headley spent five days on the witness stand -- taking up more than half the trial -- detailing how he allegedly worked for both the Pakistani intelligence agency known as the ISI and Lashkar.
Prosecutors also presented Rana's videotaped arrest statement to the FBI, during which he said he knew Headley had trained with Lashkar. They also played a September 2009 recorded phone conversation between the men.
Rana -- who owned an immigration consulting firm in Toronto and a home in Ottawa -- was accused of allowing Headley to open a branch of his Chicago-based immigration law business in Mumbai as a cover story and travel as a representative of the company in Denmark. In court, a travel agent showed how Rana booked travel for Headley.
At the trial defence attorneys chipped away at Headley's credibility, portraying him as a manipulator and habitual liar. Jurors' decision not to convict Rana on all counts could suggest they weren't fully convinced by Headley.
Rana's trial in 2011 came just weeks after Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan. Some observers had expected testimony could reveal details about alleged links between ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba. In the end, though, much that came out in testimony had been heard before through indictments and a report released by India's government.
The Pakistani government has maintained it did not know about bin Laden or help plan the Mumbai attacks.