US: Terror support defendant a risk to reoffend
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) — Authorities are worried that a British citizen facing sentencing for supporting terrorists in Afghanistan will return to the same conduct when he gets out of prison, a U.S. prosecutor said Tuesday.
Prosecutor Stephen Reynolds told a judge that Babar Ahmad has not shown remorse and has not admitted the full scope of his conduct. He urged the judge to impose a 25-year sentence on Ahmad on Wednesday.
“We do have significant concerns about Mr. Ahmad going back and doing what he did before,” Reynolds said.
Ahmad pleaded guilty in December to supporting terrorists through websites that sought to raise cash, recruit fighters and solicit items such as gas masks for the Taliban.
Ahmad says he tried to help Muslims under attack in Bosnia and Chechnya and that he deeply regrets his support for the Taliban. He says the 10 years he already served in prison is enough.
The government is much less concerned about a co-defendant, Syed Talha Ahsan, reoffending, Reynolds said. Ahsan is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.
The two men, who were extradited from Britain in 2012, faced charges in Connecticut because authorities said they used an Internet service provider in the state to run one of the websites.
Reynolds continued to press his argument that Ahmad supported al-Qaida, citing a document recovered from Ahmad’s office that makes reference to leaders of the terrorist organization. He said the websites engaged in propaganda efforts supporting al-Qaida’s then leader, Osama bin Laden.
The judge challenged prosecutors Friday on that argument, saying their own cooperating witness denied Ahmad supported al-Qaida.
Ahmad’s attorneys say he was “horrified” by the Sept. 11 attacks and publicly condemned them. They say prosecutors have gone to “desperate lengths” to try to connect Ahmad and the case to al-Qaida.
Public defender Terence Ward said the websites Ahmad operated posted more than 4,000 articles and only a few mentioned bin Laden, including bin Laden’s declaration of war in 1996.
“Clearly Mr. Ahmad regrets ever having posted that,” Ward said, noting it was before the Sept. 11 attacks.
He said the government was attributing references that may be mistaken to senior al-Qaida figures.