New York: An American student who studied in
London has admitted that he helped a friend deliver some
protective clothing to an al-Qaida military commander fighting
Americans in Afghanistan.
The plea by Pakistani-born Syed Hashmi to a single count
of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida was
entered in US District Court in Manhattan, averting a trial
that was supposed to begin today.
As part of a plea deal that will require prosecutors to
drop three other terrorism charges at his June 7 sentencing,
Hashmi agreed to serve 15 years in prison. He has already
served four years, at least three of them in solitary
confinement at a federal lockup next to the courthouse.
The 30-year-old Hashmi had faced up to 70 years in prison
if convicted of four criminal counts.
"He`ll be out of prison before he`s 40 and have his whole
life in front of him," defense attorney David Ruhnke said
Hashmi was arrested in 2006 in London and was brought to
the United States a year later.
The bearded Hashmi, wearing a prison blue uniform and a
white skull cap, smiled as he entered the courtroom and
displayed his religious enthusiasm several times when he
answered questions from Judge Loretta A Preska.
"By the grace of Allah, yes," he said as he answered one