A Pakistani-born Canadian businessman was sentenced to 14 years in prison today for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group involved in the 2008 attack on Mumbai that 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.
Rana, who declined to address the judge prior to sentencing, emigrated from Pakistan to Canada in 1997 and owns a home in Kanata, Ont., and an immigration consulting business in Toronto. He stayed in Canada long enough to become a citizen before moving to Chicago to open a branch of his successful immigration consulting business.
The 52-year-old could have received up to 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 [false] 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 militant David Coleman Headley, who had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attack.
David Coleman Headley was convicted of laying the groundwork of the 2008 Mumbai attack. The defence argued Rana only helped Headley out of a misguided sense of loyalty for his friend since childhood.
The Pakistan-born American testified against his school friend Rana to avoid the death penalty and extradition.
Headley is scheduled to be sentenced in Chicago next week.
He 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 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.