From NBC4, with thanks to Two Stellas.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A judge reduced the sentences of three U.S. Muslims convicted for their roles in a conspiracy that began with paintball games in the woods and evolved into a plan to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops. Two of the three still will serve life sentences.
A federal appeals court ordered the new sentencing hearings for Masoud Khan, of Gaithersburg, Md.; Seifullah Chapman, of Alexandria; and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, of Falls Church; following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that reduced the role of federal sentencing guidelines from mandatory to advisory.
Khan had been sentenced last year to life plus 65 years in prison, while Chapman had been sentenced to 85 years.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said at the time she imposed those sentences that they were “draconian” and “sticking in my craw” but that she had no choice because of congressionally mandated minimum sentences for certain firearms convictions…
As a result, Khan’s sentence was reduced only to life plus 45 years. Chapman, 32, had his sentence reduced from 85 years to 65 years. There is no parole in the federal system, so both will have to serve the vast majority of their terms.
“I have a limited ability to impose what I consider to be an appropriate sentence,” Brinkema said. “These statutes are really draconian. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.”
The sentence reductions could be useful to Khan and Chapman only if the firearms convictions are overturned on appeal. If that occurs, each would serve only a 10-year sentence, which Brinkema said she considered appropriate…
Some group members turned their attention against the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At a meeting on Sept. 16, 2001, the group’s spiritual leader, a Fairfax Islamic scholar named Ali al-Timimi, warned that an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and nonbelievers was at hand and urged the group to engage in holy war. He specifically said fighting for the Taliban against U.S. troops was a legitimate jihad, according to some witnesses who struck plea bargains.
Khan spoke briefly, urging those in the courtroom to fear God.
“Through trial and injustice one comes to know and love his creator,” Khan said. “Those who have brought upon this injustice have only hurt themselves.”
In all, 10 men were convicted for their roles in the conspiracy, including al-Timimi, who was sentenced to life in prison for soliciting treason and other counts. Two who were charged were acquitted.