CHICAGO - A federal jury on Thursday convicted a Chicago businessman of Pakistani origin of helping plot an attack against a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but cleared him of the most serious charge, that he cooperated in the deadly 2008 rampage in Mumbai.
The jury reached its verdict after two days of deliberations, finding Tahawwur Rana guilty of providing material support to terrorism in Denmark and to the Pakistani extremist group that claimed responsibility for the three-day siege in India's largest city. The assault left more than 160 people dead, including six Americans.
The jurors, who were not identified in court, declined to talk to reporters to explain their split verdict. Rana, a Canadian national who has lived in Chicago for years, faces up to 30 years in prison.
"We're extremely disappointed," defense attorney Patrick Blegen told reporters. "We think they got it wrong."
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he was "gratified." He said there was clear evidence that Rana was working with the extremist group.
At the center of the trial was testimony by the government's star witness, David Coleman Headley, Rana's longtime friend, who earlier had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks and plotting against the Danish paper.
The cartoons, printed in 2005, angered many Muslims because depictions of the prophet are prohibited in Islam. That attack was never carried out.
Rana, who did not testify, was on trial for allegedly allowing Headley to open a branch of his Chicago-based immigration-law-services business in Mumbai to provide cover as he surveyed potential targets for the November 2008 attacks. He was also accused of letting Headley travel as a representative of the company in Copenhagen.
The trial was highly anticipated because of the testimony of Headley, who provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which claimed it was behind the Mumbai attack, and the alleged involvement of the ISI, Pakistan's top intelligence agency.
During his testimony, Headley, whose late mother was a Philadelphia socialite, described taking orders both from an ISI member known only as "Major Iqbal" and his Lashkar handler, Sajid Mir.
Through e-mail, recorded phone conversations, and his testimony, he detailed how he met with both men - sometimes together - and then communicated all developments to Rana.
Prosecutors made a Sept. 7, 2009, recorded phone call between Rana and Headley the centerpiece of their evidence against Rana. In the call, the men discussed the Mumbai attacks and Headley talked about future targets, including the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
"Rana and Headley were playing on the same team," Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Peters said during closing arguments.