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Pak teacher in US gets 15 yrs in jail

Ali Asad Chandia is accused of helping Lashkar-e-Taiba acquire equipment with potential military applications.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 13:56 IST

A third-grade Pakistani teacher at a Muslim school was sentenced to a 15-year jail term in the United States on Friday on charges of aiding the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 30 years for Ali Asad Chandia, 29, one of the 11 Muslim men charged in US District Court in Alexandria in June 2003 with training with and fighting for the LeT.

Chandia, they said, trained at a Lashkar camp in Pakistan and helped the group acquire equipment with potential military applications when he returned to the United States.

The equipment included unmanned aerial vehicles, night-vision equipment and wireless video cameras.

Federal investigators also found a CD-ROM in Chandia's car containing videos that glorified Osama bin Laden and the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks, prosecutors said.

District Judge Claude M Hilton in Alexandria did not explain his reasoning as he imposed the sentence and ordered Chandia, who had been free on bond, into custody.

Earlier, Chandia, who teaches at a Muslim school in Maryland, had told the judge that he did not "deserve to spend a single day in prison."

With his voice shaking and rising in anger, Chandia said, "With Allah as my witness, I tell everyone that I am innocent. God knows that I did not support and would not support any terrorists."

Chandia's sentencing wrapped up an investigation that has produced more guilty verdicts than any domestic terrorism case in US since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Six of the 11 men pleaded guilty, three were convicted at trial and two were acquitted.

The group's spiritual leader, Ali al-Timimi, was convicted in 2005 on charges that included soliciting others to levy war against the United States and contributing services to Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Justice Department has hailed the case as key to the domestic campaign against terrorism, saying that its post-September 11 mandate is to prevent attacks.

First Published: Aug 26, 2006 10:22 IST