Chicago Businessman Sentenced to 14 years in United States Federal Prison for Plotting to Kill Danish Newspaper Staff


“This is about as serious as it gets.  It only would have been more serious if it had been carried out.”  These were the words spoken by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on January 17, 2013, at the sentencing of Tahawwur Rana.  52-year-old Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing material support to a South Asian terrorist organization and for plotting to assassinate employees of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  In 2005 Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.   Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 30 years.

A naturalized Canadian born in Pakistan, Rana was convicted in 2011 of supporting a plot to attack the Copenhagen offices of Jyllands-Posten and of supporting terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba.   Rana was however cleared of a charge of involvement in the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbia, India. 

The planned attack for Denmark was never carried out.  But steps were taken in furtherance of a plan to behead the employees of the Danish newspaper.  Even the defense admitted that Rana had provided a plane ticket and a cover story for longtime friend and co-conspirator David Headley to scout the Copenhagen offices of the newspaper.   With Rana's permission and support, Headley passed himself off as an employee of Rana's immigration business. 

Headley, who testified against Rana, has already admitted both his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai massacre that killed over 160 people in India’s most populace city and his involvement in the plot to attack the journalists of Jyllands-Posten.  Headley is scheduled to be sentenced this week. 

Rana did not speak at his sentencing hearing.  Defense attorney Patrick Blegen called his client’s crimes an aberration for a kind, caring family man.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Collins however pointed out that Rana “has never accepted responsibility” for his actions.

Rana was also sentenced to five years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.  But he will likely be deported upon his release. 

To read more about the sentencing, click on the January 17th article from The Washington Post/Associated Press article titled Chicago man convicted of supporting terrorist group that attacked India sentenced to 14 years, the January 17th article from Kim Janssen and Rummana Hussain of the Chicago-Sun Times titled Chicago man gets 14 years in plot to kill Danish newspaper staff, and, the January 18th article from Annie Sweeney of the Chicago Tribune titled Chicago man gets 14 years in Danish terrorism plot: Former doctor assisted plan to behead newspaper staffers over Prophet Muhammad cartoons.