CHICAGO: A Pakistani-born 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 US District Court in Chicago to the prison term followed by five years of supervised release.
Rana 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-i-Taiba, and for supporting a never-carried-out plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in 2005.
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.
Some observers had expected testimony could reveal details about alleged links between ISI and Lashkar-i-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.
Rana’s attorney, Patrick Blegen, had argued for a more lenient sentence that would take into account his poor health and the emotional impact of his separation from his wife and children.
He said Rana had suffered a heart attack while in the federal lockup. He also argued that Rana did not present a future risk.
”Judge, he is a good man and he got sucked into something, but there’s no risk that he’s going to do it again. None,” Blegen said.
Judge Harry Leinenweber said he was baffled at the descriptions put forward by his family of Rana as a kind, caring person, saying it was so ”contrary” to the person who aided the plot on the newspaper’s office.
”On the one hand we have a very intelligent person who is capable of providing assistance to many people,” the judge said just before announcing his sentence.
”But what is difficult to understand is: a person with that intelligence and that background and history of helping others … how that type of person could get sucked into a dastardly plot that was proposed.”
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.