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Prosecutors praise Rana's sentencing

  |   Jan. 18, 2013 at 12:36 AM
CHICAGO, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The sentencing of Tahawwur Hussain Rana by a U.S. court in Chicago should convince would-be terrorists they can't hide to escape punishment, a prosecutor said.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber sentenced Rana, 52, to 14 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba terror group in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and for conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist plot in Denmark.

"This serious prison sentence should go a long way toward convincing would-be terrorists that they can't hide behind the scenes, lend support to the violent aims of terrorist organizations, and escape detection and punishment," said Gary S. Shapiro, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, the FBI said.

Rana, a Canadian citizen and operating an immigration business in Chicago, had been convicted of the charges on June 9, 2011.

Leinenweber, who said Rana's actions were "a dastardly plot," ordered the prison sentence followed by five years of supervised release. He could have been sentenced up to 30 years.

Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, said the sentencing demonstrated that "just as vigorously as we pursue terrorists and their organizations, we will also pursue those who facilitate their violent plots from a safe distance."

Referring to David Coleman Headley, a co-defendant with Rana, Monaco said Rana provided "critical support" to Headley and other terrorists "from his base in the United States, knowing they were plotting attacks overseas."

In the Denmark plot, which was never carried out, Rana was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to commit murder, including a plan to behead employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, the FBI said. The planned attack was in retaliation for the newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Rana was convicted of providing material support to the LeT, which planned and carried out the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people, including six Americans.

He had been acquitted of direct involvement in the Mumbai attacks but, in India, investigators have accused Rana of being involved in the attacks and are seeking to question him for the second time.

Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 to 12 terrorism charges, including aiding and abetting the murders of the six Americans in Mumbai, the FBI said. Headley is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and faces a maximum of life in prison.

Headley had testified he had known Rana since the two attended the same high school in Pakistan, CNN reported.

The Chicago Tribune reported Rana's attorneys expressed satisfaction with the sentence.

"I thought we had the law on our side, frankly," Rana's attorney, Patrick Blegen was quoted as saying. "But obviously it's a scary proposition when the government asks for such a lengthy sentence. And his family was very concerned."

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