Chicago Businessman Found Guilty on Two Counts in Terrorism Trial
Jun 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm
A federal jury Thursday found a Pakistan-born Chicago businessman guilty on charges of participating in a conspiracy to attack a Danish newspaper and providing material support to the Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT).
Tahawwur Rana was acquitted on the charge of conspiring to provide material support to the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist strike that killed over 160 people, including six Americans.
The verdict came after two days of jury deliberations following a trial that began May 16.
Prosecutors alleged Rana's immigration company provided cover to American Lashkar operative David Headley to scout targets for the Mumbai attacks. David Headley pleaded guilty last year to his role in plotting the attacks and was the prosecution's star witness in the trial.
In his testimony, Headley said Rana knew about the plot and supported it. He also testified that members of Pakistan's powerful intelligence services, the ISI, also helped plot and finance the attacks.
Headley's testimony was corroborated by other evidence presented at the trial, including e-mails, tape recordings and videotaped admissions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Peters said in her closing arguments Tuesday.
Prosecutors also claimed Rana assisted Headley in a plot to attack the offices of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten. The newspaper's 2005 publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad had unleashed a wave of protests across the Muslim world.
Defense attorneys challenged the credibility of Headley's testimony. They argued that Rana was manipulated by Headley, who agreed to testify against his childhood friend to avoid the death penalty.
Six other co-defendants in the case who were indicted along with Rana and Headley in late 2009 are believed to be in Pakistan.
The verdict brings to a close a trial that attracted international media attention because much of the testimony implicated Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency in the Mumbai attacks and other plots.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald applauded the verdict saying, "The message should be clear to all those who help terrorists — we will bring to justice all those who seek to facilitate violence."