Pakistani Gets 30 Years in Jail

New York: A Pakistani convicted of supporting an Al-Qaida plot to blow up US gas stations was sentenced to 30 years in prison last Thursday in a case Washington has called a victory in its war on terror.
Uzair Paracha, 26, has said he falsely confessed under the pressure of three days of interrogation by the FBI, but US District Court Judge Sidney Stein said Paracha "knew what he was doing" in lending support to Al-Qaida.
Paracha waved to relatives as he left the courtroom wearing a blue prison jumpsuit. A jury in November convicted him on five counts including conspiracy to provide and providing material support to Al-Qaida.
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last year cited the case as one of the top US legal victories in the fight against violent extremists.
Prosecutors said that Paracha attended several meetings in Pakistan with his father Saifullah Paracha and suspected Al-Qaida members Majid Khan and Ammar al-Baluchi.
They said Paracha agreed to mail travel documents to Khan in Pakistan and hold $200,000 in Al-Qaida funds. The government believes Khan was planning to blow up gas stations in Maryland.
Little evidence of the suspected plot was presented at the trial, and the judge noted that FBI questioning revealed Paracha did not know details of any planned attack.
"You are a very intelligent and particularly educated young man," the judge said. "You made a very serious mistake here. It is a loss to the American community and a loss to the Pakistani community."
The other suspects are being held in undisclosed locations and have not been charged. Defense lawyer Edward Wilford said Paracha had been used by them. But prosecutor Karl Metzner disagreed, calling for a long sentence.
"The consequences of the conduct that Paracha tried to help orchestrate could have been catastrophic," Metzner said.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.