CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago businessman who provided support to a Pakistani terror group and backed a plot to kill staff of a Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Tahawwur Rana — convicted in July 2011 at a trial that made headlines around the world — was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.
The 52-year-old immigrant kept videos and books supporting violent jihad at his Chicago home and paid for lifelong pal David Headley to travel to Copenhagen to scout the offices of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, prior to a planned attack by South Asian terrorists Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Prosecutors said the foiled plot to behead newspaper staff and throw their heads from office windows prior to a fight to the death with Danish authorities would have been “murder on a grand, horrific scale.” They urged Leinenweber to sentence Rana to 30 years behind bars.
But Rana’s attorneys urged a sentence of less than 15 years. They said he sent only a few emails in support of the plot and had never done anything violent in his life. His greatest mistake, they said in court papers, was his loyalty to Headley, “a liar, a thief, and a master manipulator” he’d known since they grew up together in Pakistan.
Headley cooperated with U.S. authorities and testified against Rana to avoid the death penalty. His sensational trial testimony both doomed his old friend and linked the Pakistani security forces to the infamous 2008 terror attacks that killed 164 men, women and children in Mumbai, India.
Though Rana was cleared of involvement with that attack, he was convicted of providing material support to the group behind it, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and of involvement in the foiled Danish plot.
Evidence showed that he had said the victims of the Mumbai attack “deserved it” and that the Danish plot was “good” and “would be a huge event in the media.”
Headley is due to be sentenced next week.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)