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Chicago resident gets 14 years for support of terrorist group, Danish cartoon plot

AP Photo/Tom Gianni, File

In this June 7, 2011 file courtroom sketch, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, left, appears in federal court in Chicago. Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday.

A former Chicago businessman was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in prison for giving material support to overseas terrorism, including to a Pakistan-based terrorist group.

A judge in U.S. District Court in Chicago sentenced 52-year-old Tahawwur Rana to 14 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, The Associated Press reported. Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, was convicted in June 2011 of charges alleging he was involved in a terror plot against a Danish newspaper and provided material support to Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois. He had faced a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Rana was accused of supporting a plot against a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, the AP reported. The plot was never carried out.

"The message should be clear to all those who help terrorists — we will bring to justice all those who seek to facilitate violence," then-U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said at the time of the 2011 conviction.

The jury acquitted Rana of conspiracy to provide material support for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. In Nov. 26-29, 2008, gunmen attacked several sites in the Indian city with automatic weapons and grenades, killing more than 160 people, according to the National Counterterrorism Center. American citizen David Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks, which some call India's 9/11.

Headley, Rana's school friend, had testified against Rana to avoid the death penalty and extradition, the AP reported. Headley's sentencing is expected next week.

Rana had moved from Canada to the U.S., living and working in Chicago as a doctor with his wife and three children, the Chicago Tribune reported. He reportedly set up several businesses in Chicago, the newspaper added.

Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen had argued for a more lenient sentence, claiming there was "no risk" his client would do it again, according to the AP.

But Judge Harry Leinenweber said he found claims that Rana was a kind, caring person -- put forth by his family -- were "contrary" to someone who helped with the newspaper terror plot, the AP reported.

"On the one hand we have a very intelligent person who is capable of providing assistance to many people," the judge said just before announcing his sentence, according to the AP. "But what is difficult to understand is: a person with that intelligence and that background and history of helping others ... how that type of person could get sucked into a dastardly plot that was proposed."