Chicago man convicted of supporting terrorist group that attacked India sentenced to 14 years

CHICAGO — A Chicago businessman was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead.

Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber imposed the sentence and did not react afterward. But his defense attorneys said the judge was right to reject prosecutors’ arguments that Rana deserved a stiffer sentence because the charges were related to terrorism.

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 judge also rejected the government’s argument that the plot against the Danish newspaper was meant as a broader attack against the Danish government, amounting to an act of terrorism that should mean a harsher sentence. Leinenweber said it seemed clear the plot was solely targeting an independent newspaper on private property, and was likely intended to intimidate other media outlets that might defame Islam or its prophet.

The defense attorney, Blegen, also noted that there was no shortage of government targets in Copenhagen if they had wanted to strike at Denmark’s leaders.

He argued for a more lenient sentence for the 52-year-old Rana that would take into account his poor health and the emotional impact of his separation from his wife and children. He said the Pakistani-born Canadian citizen had suffered a heart attack while in the federal lockup. He also argued that Rana did not present a future risk.