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14 year sentence for aiding terrorism

A Pakistani-born Canadian citizen 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.

Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber imposed the sentence and did not react afterward. But his defence 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 Prophet Muhammad in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet 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, which has often been called India's 9-11.

"We think the judge made the right ruling," defence attorney Patrick Blegen said, adding that he intends to appeal Rana's conviction because the judge refused to separate the Denmark and Mumbai charges. "I had always been our belief that it would be very difficult to get a fair trial if he had to face charges for two separate plots at once."

Rana's trial in 2011 came just weeks after Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan. Some observers had expected testimony could reveal details about alleged links between ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba. In the end, though, much that came out in testimony had been heard before through indictments and a report released by India's government.

The Pakistani government has maintained it did not know about bin Laden or help plan the Mumbai attacks.

Leinenweber also sentenced Rana to five years of supervised release after his prison term was up, but Blegen said it's very likely that Rana would be deported to Canada upon release.

Rana's wife was not present at Thursday's sentencing, and the defence attorney said the woman, a Canadian citizen, was recently denied entry to the United States.

The Canadian Press


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