Rana to appeal against conviction; Sentence should send tough message to terrorists: US

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 18, 2013 10:46 hrs

Chicago: The "serious" prison sentence for Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana should send a tough message to all individuals planning to indulge in any direct or indirect terrorist activities that they cannot escape detection and punishment, US prosecutors said on Friday just as Rana's attorneys said that they would appeal against the conviction.

Fifty two-year-old Rana, an accomplice of Mumbai attack terrorist David Headley, was on Thursday sentenced to 14 years in jail followed by five years of supervised release for providing material support to Pakistan-based LeT and for backing a "dastardly" plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

"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 US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Meanwhile, Peter Blegan, attorney for Rana told reporters after a Chicago court on Thursday, "I am sure he is pleased that the judge decided not to include the terrorism enhancement. We would appeal the conviction, certainly and we would discuss this with Mr Rana."

"The next step is to appeal. That is to challenge the conviction on evidentiary grounds whether there were errors during the trial," Blegan said, adding he has 14 days to file the appeal.

The US district judge Harry D Leinenweber gave his order after hearing from both the government attorney and those of 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".

Cory B Nelson, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office of the FBI, said, "It is my hope that the judge's decision today sends a message to those who plot attacks and those who provide the support to make the plots possible, both here and abroad, that you will be held accountable for your actions."

"..Our mission, detecting and preventing terrorist acts and eliminating the enabling support provided by terrorist sympathisers, remains our top priority," he said.

Soon after the sentencing, Peter Blegan, Rana's attorney, said he was satisfied with the verdict. Given the fact that Rana has already served three years behind bars after his arrest in October 2009, Blegan said this would be included in his 14 years of sentencing.

He also hoped that the possible good behaviour shown by Rana inside the prison could result in further reduction of his jail term. Blegan exuded confidence that Rana could be set free after serving another 10 years in jail.