Canadian consultant guilty on 2 terror charges

A Chicago jury has convicted Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-born businessman who once lived in Ottawa, on two terror-related charges but has cleared him of providing support to the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Rana operated immigration services company in Ottawa

A Chicago jury has convicted Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-born businessman who once lived in Ottawa, on two terror-related charges but has cleared him of providing support to the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

After two days of deliberations, the jury found Rana guilty of charges relating to an unexecuted plot to attack a Danish newspaper and supporting the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Tahawwur Rana, sketched in a Chicago courtroom in May, did not testify at his trial on charges of providing material support for terrorism in connection with the Mumbai massacre and an unexecuted plot against a Danish newspaper. (Tom Gianni/Associated Press )

But Rana, who owns a home in Kanata, Ont., and whose immigration consultancy business has an office in Toronto, was found not guilty of providing material support to terrorism in relation to the Mumbai attacks.

"We're extremely disappointed. We think they got it wrong," defence attorney Patrick Blegen told reporters after the verdict.

Defence attorneys  said the verdict was conflicting because Rana  was convicted of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba but acquitted of charges that he helped in the Mumbai attacks.

But U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters he was gratified by the jury's decision and disagreed with the defence.

"There's lots of ways you could explain it, but I haven't spoken to the jury," Fitzgerald said. "There was clearly evidence that he knew he was working with Lashkar."

U.S. authorities had alleged Rana gave cover to childhood friend David Headley to perform surveillance on targets in advance of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and on sites for the plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

Headley, who has admitted he's a member of a Pakistani militant group, allegedly posed as a consultant for Rana's immigration services company.

Headley agreed to testify as the prosecution's star witness against Rana in exchange for a plea deal that saved him from the death penalty or extradition to India.

Headley, who changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani, testified at the trial that he conducted detailed surveillance on the Mumbai target while posing as a representative of Rana's company — and that Rana was in on the plot that killed more than 160 people, including two Canadians.

Prosecutors told the jury on Tuesday during their closing arguments that Rana's praise for the Mumbai gunmen in a September 2009 recorded conversation with Headley proves the two men were "playing on the same team." In the conversation, Headley is heard in the tape sharing potential future attack sites in India and Denmark.

But Rana's defence team argued Rana was a "dupe" for his friend Headley, whom they portrayed as a manipulator and a liar only interested in scamming his childhood friend, and then saving himself from execution.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber talks with reporters after a jury returned its verdict in the trial of Rana. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

In their closing summary, the defence ripped into Headley's credibility, citing evidence he repeatedly lied to investigators and his family, and noting he has been twice convicted for heroin smuggling.

Rana emigrated from Pakistan to Canada in 1997, staying just long enough to become a Canadian citizen before moving to Chicago 10 years ago to open a branch of his successful immigration consulting business.

With files from The Associated Press