Chicago man convicted of helping terrorists wants new trial

September 20, 2011

(AP File/Tom Gianni)
An artist's rendering of Tahawwur Rana during his trial earlier this year.

A Chicagoan convicted of helping terrorists plan an attack is asking for a new trial.

In some new court filings, Tahawwur Rana’s lawyers argue his trial was not fair. They say jurors were confused by the complex nature of the case.

Earlier this year, Rana spent more than two weeks on trial in a federal courtroom in Chicago. A jury found him guilty on two counts. He was convicted on one count for supporting terrorists, particularly a pro-Pakistan, anti-India organization that the U.S. government classifies as a terrorist group. The other guilty count was for helping his friend plan an attack on a newspaper in Denmark; the paper that published a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

In the motion for a new trial filed Monday, Rana’s attorneys write that the jury showed confusion when they sent a letter to the judge during deliberations. The letter asked whether two of Rana’s co-defendants who were not on trial were part of a terrorist group.

“As the jury was confused as to the nature of the involvement of certain principal actors, it stands to reason that they were also confused about the nature of the allegations,” Rana’s attorneys write in their motion.

The jury acquitted Rana of the most serious charge: supporting the 2008 Mumbai, India attacks in which 164 people were killed.

Rana could face up to 30 years in prison for his two guilty counts. He has remained in federal custody while awaiting sentencing.