A Pakistani immigrant has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for hatching an unsuccessful plot to blow up a busy Manhattan subway station as revenge for wartime abuses of Iraqis.
Shahawar Matin Siraj, 24, was arrested on August 27, 2004, on the eve of the Republican National Convention.
Though there was no proof he ever obtained explosives or was linked to any terror organisations, prosecutors said his intentions were ominous: he wanted to blow up the Herald Square subway station, a bustling transportation hub.
Siraj showed no reaction as the sentence was read yesterday. He faces deportation when his sentence is completed.
Defence attorneys had sought to convince US District Judge Nina Gershon that Siraj's sentence should not exceed 10 years, arguing in court filings that their client was "not a dangerous psychopath but more of a confused and misguided youngster."
Prosecutors countered that the defendant deserved at least 30 years behind bars as the driving force behind a "workable terrorist plot."
Siraj was convicted of conspiracy last year based partly on the testimony of a police informant, Osama Eldawoody, who was recruited to monitor Muslims at mosques and elsewhere following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Inside an Islamic bookstore near a Brooklyn mosque, Eldawoody wore a wire and chatted up Siraj, an employee who lived with his parents in Queens. When the topic turned to the war in Iraq, Siraj ranted about rumours that US soldiers were sexually abusing Iraqi girls.
"That was enough for me," he said in one of a series of secretly recorded conversations played for the jury.