Brooklyn Man Convicted on Terrorism Charges
UPDATE: On March 2, 2012, Kaziu was sentenced to 27-years imprisonment.
Posted: July 11, 2011
A Brooklyn man inspired by online terrorist propaganda has been convicted of attempting to join a foreign terrorist organization with the intention of killing U.S. military personnel.
Betim Kaziu, a 23-year-old American citizen, was convicted in Brooklyn federal court on July 7, 2011, of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, among other crimes.
Kaziu allegedly planned to travel overseas to join a "radical foreign fighter group" and to take up arms against perceived enemies of Islam, according to the Department of Justice.
In February 2009, Kaziu flew to Cairo with his childhood friend Sulejah Hadzovic in hopes of eventually arriving in Somalia to join Al Shabaab, a U.S.-designated terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda. He reportedly told his family that the purpose of his trip was to study Arabic in the Middle East.
The men were inspired, in part, by watching videos of Omar Hammami, Al Shabaab's American spokesman, offering women and crops for those who would join the fight. Prior to leaving the U.S. for Cairo, the men also watched videos of Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. Kaziu's used his MySpace profile to post videos of bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. born Muslim cleric whose online sermons have influenced scores of extremists in the West.
According to testimony by Hadzovic, who eventually had a change of heart and returned home without Kaziu, the men were also motivated "to go and fight in jihad" because "what was happening in places like Abu Gharaib prison and Guantanamo bay, how they were humiliating and torturing Muslims there." Hadzovic began cooperating with federal authorities after he returned to the U.S. and faces a maximum 15 years in prison for his role in the plot.
Prosecutors say that once Kaziu was on his own, he allegedly sought to travel to Pakistan for military training and attempted to purchase weapons, which prosecutors allege he intended to use against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, where he ultimately went.
Kaziu was arrested by Kosovan authorities in late August 2009 and was extradited to New York at the end of September 2009. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.