Thu, Dec 12, 2013 - Page 7 News List

British men on trial in US plead guilty to backing terrorism

AP, NEW HAVEN, Connecticut

Two men extradited from Britain last year pleaded guilty on Tuesday to supporting terrorists in Afghanistan through Web sites that sought to raise cash, recruit fighters and solicit combat equipment.

Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan pleaded guilty in the US District Court of New Haven, Connecticut, to charges of providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

By pleading guilty, the men “admitted that they knew that their efforts could result in the maiming and murder of individuals, including US citizens,” acting US Attorney Deirdre Daly said.

A prosecutor said Ahsan traveled to Afghanistan with Ahmad’s assistance to fight and attend a training camp run by al-Qaeda, but Ahsan did not admit that.

Both men possessed a classified document discussing a US Navy battle group’s movements and vulnerability to attack, authorities said.

A former US Navy sailor was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years in prison for leaking the details about the group to the Web site, although it was never attacked.

The judge did not immediately accept Ahmad’s plea as she is waiting for information from probation officials, but said the plea was made voluntarily.

The two men, who were living in the UK at the time of the alleged crimes, face charges in Connecticut because authorities said they used an Internet service provider there to run one of the sites.

The Web sites were operated under the name of Azzam Publications, which authorities say provided support to Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime, and focused on the wars in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s.

The sites asked for donations of military suits and gas masks for the Taliban, as well as appealing to Pakistanis to travel to Afghanistan to fight, according to Ahmad’s plea agreement.

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