Updated: June 18, 2004
Members of "Jihad Network" Sentenced
Three Americans accused of conspiring to fight alongside a Pakistani-based terrorist group and of engaging in paramilitary training in the Virginia woods were sentenced to long prison terms in U.S. District Court.
One of the defendants, Masoud Khan, read a statement in court after being sentenced to life in prison on June 15, 2004. "Had I been a Zionist Jew or a Christian training to fight, I would never have been charged with violating the Neutrality Act," Khan said.
Khan, a 32-year-old Maryland native who prosecutors said traveled to Pakistan to train with Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, designated as a foreign terrorist group by the U.S., was convicted of the most serious charges, including conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. and providing material support to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The two other members of what prosecutors called the "Virginia Jihad Network," Seifullah Chapman, 31, and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 36, were sentenced to 85 and 8 years in prison respectively.
Chapman admitted attending the militant Pakistani training camp, although he said he did so for the physical challenge. Abdur-Raheem was convicted of providing military training to the other members by engaging in paint ball games in the Virginia woods.
Khan and Chapman received their lengthy prison terms as a result of mandatory minimum sentences for weapons convictions related to the conspiracy.
Since a federal grand jury indicted 11 people last June on conspiracy, firearms and other charges, six members have pleaded guilty and received prison sentences. Two others were acquitted of all charges. Khan, Chapman, and Abdur-Raheem were the only members to face trial.
Three Members of U.S. "Jihad" Group Sentenced
Posted: November 13, 2003
Three men accused of supporting a group that allegedly planned to fight alongside a Pakistani terrorist group were sentenced on conspiracy and weapons charges by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on November 7, 2003.
Donald Surratt, of Maryland, formerly a U.S. Marine Corps instructor, received a nearly four year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy and gun charges in connection with a group that prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network." Khwaja Mahmood Hasan and Yong Ki Kwon, both of Fairfax, Virginia, were sentenced to over eleven years in federal prison. They were members of a group that visited a terrorist training camp in Pakistan after September 11, 2001. All three pleaded guilty on August 25, 2003.
The sentences handed down by the District Court are the first since a federal grand jury charged 11 men with conspiracy to fight with the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which is designated as a foreign terrorist group by the U.S. government. Tayyaba has focused its terrorist activity on removing India from the disputed region of Kashmir, located on the border with Pakistan.
U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty described the defendants as "American citizens" who "allegedly met, plotted and recruited for violent jihad." Nine of the eleven defendants are U.S. citizens. According to the initial indictment, which was released in June, the men purchased weapons and ammunition and trained with them at local firing ranges. They also trained by gathering for paintball games in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
On September 22, 2003, a fourth defendant, Muhammed Aatique, of Norristown, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to helping other defendants "in preparing for and beginning a military expedition to be carried out from the United States against India," according to the plea agreement.
The seven other defendants were indicted on additional charges in September. Two of the defendants, Ismail Royer and Masoud Khan, face charges of conspiracy to wage war against the U.S. and conspiracy to provide material support to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The other men facing charges, including violations of the Neutrality Act, are Seifullah Chapman, Hammad Abdur-Raheem, Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, Sabri Benkhala and Ibrahim al-Hamdi, the son of a Yemini diplomat, who has already pleaded guilty to possession of a semi-automatic weapon.