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Tahawwur Rana gets 14 yrs for Danish terror plot but jury clears him of 26/11 charges
Last Updated : 18 Jan 2013 03:55:04 PM IST
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Tahawwur Rana gets 14 yrs for Danish terror plot but jury clears him of 26/11 charges

 

Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Thursday for providing support to LeT and for backing a "dastardly" plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

 


But jurors cleared Rana of the third and most serious charge of involvement in the three-day rampage in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008.

The US District Judge Harry D Leinenweber gave his order after hearing from both the government attorney and those of  52-year-old Rana, during which the two argued on the length of imprisonment.

 

The last minute arguments lasted for more than an hour and half before the judge noted "This certainly was a dastardly plot". The Defence had sought a lighter sentence of about nine years citing the Pakistani-Canadian's poor health while the Prosecution wanted a 30-year jail term.

 



Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before US 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.

 

 

Rana was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to a plot from October 2008 to October 2009 to commit murder in Denmark, including a horrific plan to behead employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper,and throw their heads on to the street in Copenhagen, as well as providing material support, from late 2005 to October 2009,to LeT, US Attorney's Office, Chicago said.

The government’s star witness at Rana’s trial was  terrorist David Coleman Headley, who had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks.

 

"Based upon presiding over the trial and reading over the material that has been provided to me, we have on one hand a very intelligent person capable and willing to provide assistance to many many people.

 "What is difficult to understand how that kind of person is sucked into a ghastly plot that was proposed to go into the private office of a newspaper," the judge said.

 He added: "It seems to me that people who are determined to carry out terrorist activity really do not care about what is going to happen to them. As long as Rana is in custody he is personally deterred from any personal such activity.

"Providing a long sentence would make sure that Rana does not get involved in any kind of terrorist activity in the future".Reacting to the verdict, the Prosecution said they were "pleased".

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.

 

"This serious prison sentence should go a long way towards convincing would-be terrorists that they can't hide behind the
scenes, lend support to the violent aims of terrorist organisations, and escape detection and punishment," said Gary S Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

 Earlier the judge said that the whole idea that Headley was sent to Copenhagen to place an ad in a newspaper when one can do it simply over computer from here, shows that "the crime is serious" and noted Rana assisted Headley in going to Denmark for such a plot.

The Assistant US Attorney government attorney Daniel Collins said that "terrorism enhancement" be taken into consideration for sentencing and pleaded for "severe sentence" for Rana.

 Peter Blegan, Rana's attorney, argued that it is not applicable and claimed that the argument made by the government attorney is factually inaccurate. "The court finds that terrorism enhancement does not apply under the current terrorism act," judge Leinenweber said.

"This seems clear to me that the planned attack was on a private company on a private property...we had a plot to invade a private newspaper and a private property... This certainly was a dastardly plot," he noted.

 Rana, who use to run a visa service agency that helped Headley, was brought to the court in an orange jump suit several minutes after scheduled sentencing hearing at 10 AM local Chicago time.

Sentencing of Headley on Jan 24

Sentencing of Headley has been scheduled for January 24. In March 2010, he pleaded guilty to all 12 counts against him, including aiding and abetting the murders of the six American victims.

Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, Headley cooperated with the Government since he was arrested in October 2009, and testified as a Government witness at Rana's trial.

Among other six indicted by the FBI, include Ilyas Kashmiri, influential terrorist organisation leader in Pakistan who is in regular contact with of Al Qaeda leaders; and Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), a retired major in the Pakistani military, both of whom were charged in two conspiracy counts relating to the Denmark terrorism plot.

The whole idea that Headley was sent to Copenhagen to place an advertisement in a newspaper when you can do it simply over computer from here, shows that "the crime is serious", the Judge said noting Rana assisted Headley in going to Denmark for such a plot.

The Assistant US Attorney government attorney Daniel Collins said that "terrorism enhancement" be taken into consideration for sentencing and pleaded for "severe sentence" for Rana.

Peter Blegan, Rana's attorney, argued that it is not applicable and claimed that the argument made by the government attorney is factually inaccurate.

"The court finds that terrorism enhancement does not apply under the current terrorism act," judge Leinenweber said.

"This seems clear to me that the planned attack was on a private company on a private property...we had a plot to invade a private newspaper and a private property. It was a ghastly plot," he noted.

Rana was brought to the court in an orange jump suit several minutes after scheduled sentencing hearing at 10 AM local Chicago time.

Gray haired Rana appeared calm, but weak. His wife could not be present as she was denied entry into the US from Canada by immigration authorities, Mr Blegan said.

One of his sons was also not present as he was in college. However, a number of his other family members were present during the sentencing hearing, which was jam packed with a battery of reporters representing both the Indian and US media.

Judge Leinenweber said he has read and reviewed the positions of both the government and those of the Rana attorney.

He said he has also received letters of recommendations in favour of Rana from his family, friends and other members of the society.
   


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