By JO ANN HUSTIS
CHICAGO, Ill. — A Pakistani-born, naturalized Canadian living in Chicago, who owned an Islamic meat processing plant in rural northeastern Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Jan. 16, for conspiracy in a terrorist murder plot at a Denmark newspaper.
Tahawwur Hus-sain Rana, 52, who ran both the meat packing plant in Kinsman, Ill. – population 100 – and a Chicago-based immigration service, was also convicted in U.S. District Court-Northern District of Illinois in Chicago for providing material support to the Lashkar e Tayyiba, a militant jihadist organization operating in Pakistan and responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.
Rana’s co-conspirator, U.S. citizen David Headley – formerly Daood Gilani, 49, of Chicago – was sentenced in federal court Jan. 24. Rana was convicted on June 9, 2011, after a three-week trial. In addition, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber sentenced Rana to five years of supervised release after his prison term is served.
“This certainly was a dastardly plot,” Leinenweber was quoted as saying in a court statement on the sentencing.
The court proceedings were the result of a criminal investigation by the FBI on Oct. 18, 2009, when 20 agency members and approximately 20 other law enforcement officers and National Guard personnel raided First World Management, the former Rodosky Meat Packing plant in Kinsman.
The tiny village is 20 miles southwest of Morris, in Grundy County. The early Sunday raid concluded at about noon, witnesses at the time said.
Several dozen law enforcement vehicles, two helicopters and a small airplane were used in the raid, witnesses noted. Kinsman residents said the plant was operated by Middle Easterners, who butchered goats and sheep in accordance with Islamic dietary rules, and shipped the processed meat to Chicago for sale.
Some witnesses said people at the plant were handcuffed by authorities in the raid, and later cleared. No one was arrested in the raid itself. Rana and Headley were arrested about a week after in Chicago on conspiracy charges.
More than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed in the jihadist attacks in Mumbai. However, conspiracy charges were dropped against Rana in the India attacks, the court statement noted.
The Denmark conspiracy was a yearlong plot that began in October 2008. Included in the plot was “a horrific plan to behead employees of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, (a Danish newspaper) and throw their heads on the streets of Copenhagen,” the court statement read. The action was to retaliate for the newspaper’s publication of cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Mohammed.
Altogether, eight people were indicted in the case. Headley pled guilty in March 2010 to 12 terrorism charges, including aiding and abetting the murders in the Mumbai attacks. Since his arrest, he has cooperated with the government and testified as a government witness at Rana’s trial.
Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison for a dozen federal terrorism crimes relating to his role in planning the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the proposed attack on the Danish newspaper. Leinenweber also ordered Headley to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term.
There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. “Mr. Headley is a terrorist,” Leinenweber said in the sentencing. It was also noted while life imprisonment would be an appropriate punishment for Headley’s crimes, for “the significant value provided by his immediate and extensive cooperation,” the government sought a 30- to 35-year sentence.
The trial found Rana knowingly assisted a terrorist organization and murderers, knew their violent goals and readily agreed to help achieve their aims. Rana also knew the co-conspirators planned to retaliate against the Danish government for publication of the Mohammed cartoons, the court statement noted.
“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,” FBI Special Agent Cory B. Nelson of Chicago was quoted, in the statement.
Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for National Security, noted in the statement that Rana provided critical support to Headley and other terrorists from his base in the United States, knowing the others were plotting attacks overseas.