A Chicago jury early Friday held Tahawwur Rana not guilty of conspiring in the Mumbai carnage of 2008, which killed 166 people, while holding him guilty of plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that never happened.
Rana was also held guilty of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the attack. But, the verdict clarified that Rana's support to the terrorist outfit did not result in any death.The second to be convicted in the case after David Headley, Rana could be looking at 15 years for each of the two counts on which he was held guilty - 30 years in all - but not the death or life sentence.
The prosecution, which had relied heavily on Headley's testimony to nail Rana, said it was disappointed by the verdict and that it would challenge it. The defence said it was equally disappointed. Rana was shocked, his lawyers said at a press conference.
Headley has made a deal with US authorities that will prevent him from either being given the death sentence or extradited to India in exchange for cooperating with investigators.
"This was coming," said an Indian official, unwilling to be named.
"The defence team had no problem discrediting the prosecution team's star witness Headley," the Indian official said.
Headley was the man who surveyed each of the venues targeted by the Lashkar team of terrorists - including Ajmal Kasab - over two days in November, 2008. He also selected the landing site for the terrorist who came by boat.
And he spent months doing that, using a branch of Rana's First World Immigration Services as his cover. Rana, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, even spoke to Headley's ISI handler, a man called Major Iqbal.
Headley deposed in the trial saying Rana knew of the plot, its execution and the aftermath. But the defence team portrayed him as untrustworthy, saying he had conned Rana into the operation.