Backer of Terror Group Gets 14 Years

CHICAGO (AP) -

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.

The kedoshim, Hy”d, Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg, Rabbi Leibush Teitelbaum, Rabbi Benzion Kruman, Yocheved Orpaz and Norma Schwartzenblat-Rabinovitz, were murdered in the terrorist attack on the Chabad House there.

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 founder of Islam in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of him 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, an event which has often been called India’s 9/11.

Prosecutors, who had sought a sentence of up to 30 years, issued a written statement in which Acting U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro called the 14-year term a “serious” sentence “that should go a long way towards convincing would-be terrorists that they canhide behind the scenes, lend support to the violent aims of terrorist organizations and escape detection and punishment.”

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 and spent five days on the witness stand detailing how he allegedly worked for both the Pakistani intelligence agency known as the ISI and Lashkar.

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. During trial, a travel agent showed how Rana booked travel for Headley and prosecutors 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.