Mumbai terror suspect Rana set to be sentenced

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Chicago, Jan 17 (IANS) Pakistan-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana is set to be sentenced by a US court here Thursday for providing support to Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that staged the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Although Rana, a boyhood friend of LeT operative David Coleman Headley, was acquitted of supporting the Mumbai attacks, prosecutors are seeking the maximum 30-year sentence for his role in the aborted plot to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten for publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Headley, son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, who changed his given name of Dawood Gilani to scout targets in Mumbai without arousing suspicion, pleaded guilty in both the Mumbai and Danish terrorism plots, and was the star prosecution witness at Rana's trial.

Headley would be sentenced a week later Jan 24.

Rana's lawyers seeking leniency for their client downplayed his role in the Danish scheme, saying he was kept in the dark about much of the plot.

Headley, they said, was a master manipulator who fooled Rana into supporting his terror activities.

They also said the 52-year-old Rana is a "kind", "compassionate" family man with no prior history of violence and no criminal record and so should get no more than 10 years' prison time.

They also noted Rana's recent health problems, including a heart attack.

A Chicago jury convicted Rana in June 2011 on the charges of providing Headley cover as an employee of his immigration business to scout targets in Mumbai and the newspaper office in Copenhagen.

In court filings this week, federal prosecutors described the alleged Danish plot involving beheading newspaper employees and depositing their heads onto Copenhagen streets as "murder on a grand, horrific scale".

Prosecutors said Rana, who lived in Chicago and owned a Northwest Side immigration and travel service, operated the business as a front for funnelling terrorist money overseas.

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