The judge responded that he doubted any sentence he imposed would deter anyone bent on committing a terrorist attack.
"Seems to me that people determined to carry out terrorism really don't care what happens to them," Leinenweber said. He added, however, that a long sentence would help prevent Rana from taking part in any future terrorist activity.
The judge also rejected the government's argument that the plot against the Danish newspaper was meant as a broader attack against the Danish government, amounting to an act of terrorism that should mean a harsher sentence. Leinenweber said it seemed clear the plot was solely targeting an independent newspaper on private property, and was likely intended to intimidate other media outlets that might defame Islam or its prophet.
The defense attorney, Blegen, also noted that there was no shortage of government targets in Copenhagen if they had wanted to strike at Denmark's leaders.
He argued for a more lenient sentence for the 52-year-old Rana that would take into account his poor health and the emotional impact of his separation from his wife and children. He said the Pakistani-born Canadian citizen had suffered a heart attack while in the federal lockup. He also argued that Rana did not present a future risk.
"Judge, he is a good man and he got sucked into something, but there's no risk that he's going to do it again. None," Blegen said.
Judge Leinenweber said he was baffled at the descriptions of Rana from family and friends that portrayed him as a kind, caring person, saying it was so "contrary" to the person who aided the plot on the newspaper's office.
"On the one hand we have a very intelligent person who is capable of providing assistance to many people," the judge said just before announcing his sentence. "But what is difficult to understand is: a person with that intelligence and that background and history of helping others ... how that type of person could get sucked into a dastardly plot that was proposed."
Leinenweber also sentenced Rana to five years of supervised release after his prison term was up, but Blegen said it's very likely that Rana would be deported to Canada upon release.
Rana's wife was not present at Thursday's sentencing, and the defense attorney said the woman, a Canadian citizen, was recently denied entry to the United States.
Rana's trial in 2011 came just weeks after Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan. Some observers had expected testimony could reveal details about alleged links between ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba. In the end, though, much that came out in testimony had been heard before through indictments and a report released by India's government.
The Pakistani government has maintained it did not know about bin Laden or help plan the Mumbai attacks.