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US jails NRI over links with Al-Qaeda

Ilyas is one of three men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide support to terrorists.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 11:25 IST

An Indian-born man who helped hatch a drugs-for-weapons scheme aimed at supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Al-Qaeda was jailed for nearly five years.

Naturalised US citizen Ilyas Ali, one of three men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to distribute heroine and hashish, was sentenced in the US city of San Diego on Monday.

US District Judge James Lorenz ordered Ali -- who admitted the charges two years ago -- jailed for 57 months and to complete five years of supervised release.

"This case is a stark reminder of the ever-present threat posed by people who scheme to provide support to terrorists," said Attorney Carol Lam, who prosecuted the case.

A Pakistani, Muhammed Abid Afridi, who also pleaded guilty in March 2004 to taking part in the plot, was sentenced to 57 months behind bars by the same court in southern California a week ago.

A third man, Pakistani citizen Syed Mustajab Shah, has also admitted guilt and is set to be sentenced June 19.

The trio of conspirators travelled from the Pakistani city of Karachi to Hong Kong on September 15, 2002 to meet with US undercover officers to negotiate for the sale of large quantities of drugs, the indictment showed.

The next day, the defendants agreed that they could offset the purchase price of five tonnes of hashish and 600 kilograms of heroine against the cost of four Stinger shoulder-launched missiles, according to prosecutors.

First Published: Apr 12, 2006 11:25 IST