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Pak American jailed for 23 years

A Pakistani American accused of helping what he thought was an attempt to bomb Metro stations in the Washington area last year has been sentenced to 23 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two charges.

world Updated: Apr 12, 2011 10:11 IST

A Pakistani American accused of helping what he thought was an attempt to bomb Metro stations in the Washington area last year has been sentenced to 23 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two charges.

Farooque Ahmed, a 35-year-old Pakistan-born naturalised US citizen, who had pleaded not guilty last year changed his plea, Monday in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington suburb.

Ahmed admitted that he attempted to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization. He also pleaded guilty to collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility.

In court documents, Ahmed admitted performing surveillance at Metro stations near the Pentagon, taking videos and making diagrams of possible places to locate bombs.

He suggested between 4 and 5 p.m. "would be the best time to stage an attack to cause the highest number of casualties" in several simultaneous explosions, according to a statement of facts signed by Ahmed.

Prosecutors said Ahmed thought he was helping members of Al Qaeda, but in reality he was providing information to people working for the US government.

"All I can say is I'm sorry," Ahmed wearing a dark green jail jumpsuit told the court. "It was the wrong action."

"There is no form of Islam that condones killing women and children or innocents," said US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Lee also ordered that Ahmed's prison term be followed by 50 years of supervised release.

US Attorney Neil MacBride said after the hearing government operatives did not have to entice Ahmed into terrorism.

MacBride said those posing as Al Qaeda operatives asked Ahmed to check three Metro stations and Ahmed then suggested a fourth. "His reason was that he could maximise casualties. He wanted to kill as many people as possible."

US officials believe that Ahmed was working alone, MacBride said, and that the public was never in danger because his activities were being closely monitored.

Authorities found three weapons at Ahmed's home at the time of his arrest in late October: a Smith & Wesson pistol, a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun and a Remington rifle, along with ammunition.

Also discovered was a biography of American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.