BBC on December 10, 2013 released the following:
By: Dominic Casciani
“A British man who spent eight years fighting extradition to the US has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
Babar Ahmad, 39, from south London, admitted conspiracy and providing material to support to terrorism and faces up to 25 years in jail.
He admitted the offences in a plea agreement hearing in a federal court hearing in New Haven, Connecticut.
A second British man, Syed Talha Ahsan, is also expected to enter related guilty pleas later.
Both men were extradited to the US in October last year. Ahmad’s eight-year battle against extradition was a record for a British citizen and he had thousands of supporters.
Ahmad appeared in the New Haven District Court wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. He did not change two separate pleas of not guilty that he had previously entered to charges of conspiracy to kill and money laundering.
District Judge Janet Hall said she would review Ahmad’s admissions before sentencing on 4 March 2014. The plea agreement means that Ahmad faces a reduced sentence – although the prosecution is still seeking 25 years.
US authorities say that at the heart of the case against both of the men was a website and terrorism support cell network that Ahmad oversaw in London. He was accused of providing logistical and financial support to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan.
In the plea agreement, released by the court, Ahmad states that “he solicited and conspired to provide funds [and] personnel for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan” and that he and others “recruited men to travel to Afghanistan for mujahedeen training and sought out gas masks to send abroad.”
Ahmad launched Azzam publications in the late 1990s as probably the first website promoting jihadist thought in English. It went on to play a pivotal role in propagating the political ideology at a critical point in its development and growth in the West.
The site was shut down within weeks of 9/11 – but in practice much of its content lived on in other forms.
Sajid Badat, a British man who renounced extremism after plotting to blow up a plane, told investigators that he had first been radicalised by Ahmad.
The ringleader of the 7 July London bombers had copies of some of Azzam’s texts on martyrdom – and his will was partly a copy of a document first published on the website.
Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan tried to avoid extradition on the basis that the website’s activities were conducted in the UK, where neither man had been charged or prosecuted for terrorism offences.
But although part of the US case against the men was based on investigations by the Metropolitan Police, the website was technically based in the US and it appealed for support from American and Canadian Muslims.
Ahmad’s campaign to stay in the UK led to more than 100,000 people signing an official government e-petition in an attempt to get a debate in Parliament.
Shortly before he lost his extradition battle, BBC News interviewed him in prison. During that interview, Ahmad denied supporting al-Qaeda inspired terrorism in the West, such as 9/11 and 7/7.
Cageprisoners, a campaign group that supported Babar Ahmad’s battle against extradition, said the plea bargain was “a result of him being stuck within a justice system that offers no way out.”
Moazzam Begg, the group’s outreach director, said: “We must be careful against seeing this as an admission of guilt. Babar had little choice but to make this decision after finding himself amid torturous conditions within the impossible labyrinth of US injustice.
“This episode is a damning indictment of a system that does not rest until it saps its victims´ hope and tramples their dignity underfoot.””
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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