NYC accountant gets 18 years for aiding al-Qaida
NEW YORK (AP) — A successful accountant who admitted supporting al-Qaida with money and supplies was sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday by a judge who said it was necessary to deter others from developing similar violent aspirations.
Sabirhan Hasanoff, 37, a citizen of the U.S. and Australia, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court, where he pleaded guilty last year to supporting al-Qaida and conspiring with others. He was also ordered to forfeit $70,000.
The sentence was two years less than the maximum he faced after striking a plea deal with the government, though it was five years longer than what Probation Department officers recommended.
Prosecutors said Hasanoff provided extensive support to al-Qaida from 2007 to 2010, including by purchasing an advanced remote control for explosives attacks and by reporting rudimentary information about the New York Stock Exchange. They said he also made regular cash donations to people he thought were affiliated with al-Qaida.
The judge said the “most important factor” in deciding how much time Hasanoff must serve was the need to deter others from similar conduct.
In a letter to the judge, Hasanoff expressed regret for abandoning his life in America, where he lived in Brooklyn with his wife and three children after graduating from Baruch College in Manhattan and obtaining a job as a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
He was working as the chief financial officer for a large company based in Dubai when he was arrested there in 2010 and brought to the United States to face charges.
“I made a good living and my family and I enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle,” he wrote. “And then, for reasons that I still have trouble confronting, I threw that all away.”
Inspired by radical clerics, he said his desire to strengthen his Muslim faith and fight atrocities committed against Muslims around the world mixed with guilt about his comfortable life.
“I completely renounce any view of Islam that says that violent jihad is in any way acceptable,” he said.
Hasanoff told the judge Monday: “I’m very sorry for my conduct. I should have known better, and I don’t have any excuses.”
An indictment alleged that Hasanoff and met with two men in 2008 to discuss aiding al-Qaida. It said one of the men paid Hasanoff $50,000 to transfer money and do other tasks for the terrorist network.
The government said Hasanoff and his co-defendant used code words in Internet chats in 2009 about fighting jihad and finding other al-Qaida contacts. In their coded language, “safari” was used in place of “jihad” and saying a friend was “hospitalized” meant that he was in prison.