US cabbie jailed for giving financial aid to al-Qaeda

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Washington/New York, Jun 9: A Pakistani-American cab driver in Chicago, who gave money to al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri for terror attacks in India, has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on charges of providing financial assistance to terrorist outfit al-Qaeda.

Raja Lahrasib Khan, 58, who became a US citizen in 1988, had pleaded guilty in February this year on the count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, after he was arrested in March 2010. US District Judge James Zagel in Chicago said Khan displayed "toxic altruism" while sentencing him to 90-months in prison followed by lifetime supervised release. In addition, the judge said it was a "profoundly aggravating factor" that Khan's crime occurred after he voluntarily chose to become a naturalised US citizen. Khan asked for mercy before being handed out the punishment, saying he was ashamed of what he did.

Although Khan's actual donations of approximately USD 500 to USD 550 and attempted donation of USD 1,000 were not incredibly substantial amounts, donations need not be large to be of assistance to terrorist organisations, the government argued, and the judge noted as well.

Khan, who was born and resided in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir before immigrating to the US in late 1970s, admitted that he had met Pakistan-based terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri in Pakistan in the early to mid-2000s and again in 2008. At the time of his second meeting, he knew that Kashmiri was working with al-Qaeda, in addition to leading attacks against Indian government in Kashmir, a US justice department statement said.

Although Khan was not accused of a terrorist attempt, but the complaint said he talked about planting bags of bombs in an unspecified stadium. Khan has been held in a federal jail since his arrest.


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