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Friday, June 25, 2010

Pakistan court sentences Americans to prison on terrorism charges
Ann Riley at 9:41 AM ET

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[JURIST] A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Thursday sentenced five Americans to 10 years in prison for plotting attacks on Pakistan. Waqar Hussain Khan, Ahmed Minni, Ramy Zamzam, Aman Yemer and Umar Farooq, all students from the Washington, DC metro area, were convicted [AP report] of criminal conspiracy and funding a banned terrorist organization and will carry out the respective ten-year and five-year sentences concurrently. According to Deputy Prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar, the five men, facing life in prison, were acquitted [Reuters report] of additional charges of planning war against Pakistan, directing others to launch attacks and attempting to cross the Afghan border illegally. US State Department (DOS) [official website] spokesperson Mark Toner said the US respected Pakistan's right to conduct such judicial proceedings [press briefing] but did not comment on the ongoing legal process, as the defense is expected to appeal the decision.

Prosecutors claimed that e-mail records and witness statements supported the allegations that the five men, arrested in Pakistan in December, were planning attacks [Washington Post report] against a nuclear plant, an air base and targets in Afghanistan and US territories. The men are committed to appeal the decision [Washington Post report] and contend that they were on their way to Afghanistan to participate in humanitarian work, while additionally claiming that they were tortured by FBI agents and Pakistani authorities. Their arrest highlights a growing concern of US citizens' involvement with extremist groups and homegrown terrorists. Thursday's verdict comes the same week as Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad [BBC profile] pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 10 counts of terrorism and weapons charges [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] relating to last month's attempted car bombing in New York City's Times Square.

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