A US federal judge sentenced a Pakistani-born Chicago businessman on Thursday to 14 years in prison for providing support to an Islamic militant group blamed for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Tahawwur Rana, 52, a former Pakistani Army doctor with Canadian citizenship, had also been found guilty in June 2011 of conspiring to attack a Danish newspaper, a plot hatched by the militant group that was never carried out.
Judge Harry Leinenweber said he received many letters from family members, friends and others testifying that Rana was an “intelligent man willing to provide assistance in a good way to many, many people.”
“What is puzzling ... is how this kind of person could get sucked into a dastardly plot,” Leinenweber said at the sentencing hearing.
Rana had been found guilty of providing support to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for orchestrating attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people. He was not found to be complicit in the attacks.
The key witness at the trial — Rana’s childhood friend, David Headley — implicated Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, in the Mumbai attack.
Headley pleaded guilty to scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers sent by Lashkar-e-Taiba, designated by the US Department of State as a terrorist organization. Headley, a US citizen, is due to be sentenced next Thursday.
The plot to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was meant as retaliation for the paper’s decision in 2005 to publish 12 cartoons by various artists, most of which depicted the Prophet Mohammed. The conspirators discussed beheading employees of the paper.
Prosecutor Daniel Collins argued during the hearing that a harsh sentence was necessary because of the violent nature of the plot and that Rana was aware of what Lashkar represented.
Rana’s lawyer argued that Rana had suffered a heart attack in prison and was in generally poor health, adding that he was unlikely to represent a danger to society.