“The best decision I ever made.”
“U.S. man gets 15 years for attending militant camp,” by Christine Kearney for Reuters :
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former paramedic and cab driver in the U.S. state of Maryland was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday after admitting he attended a militant training camp in the mountains of Pakistan.
Mahmud Faruq Brent, 32, pleaded guilty in April to providing support to a terrorist organization. For three months in early 2002, he attended a camp operated by Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist group.
In sentencing Brent, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said he was a willing “foot soldier” whose decision to attend a training camp in Pakistan “falls completely within the heartland” of “terrorist-related activities.”
Brent, a Muslim who wore a white skullcap during the hearing in Manhattan federal court, declined to speak in his defense. Behind him, friends and relatives wept after he received the maximum sentence.
He was charged along with three other men as part of a case centered around New York jazz musician and martial arts instructor Tarik Shah, who pleaded guilty to pledging allegiance to al Qaeda and offering to train would-be militants in hand-to-hand combat.
During the sentencing, prosecutor Victor Hou said Brent, who worked as both a cab driver and paramedic before his arrest in August 2005, received martial arts training from Shah and told him attending the camp “was the best decision I ever made.”
“His true enemies were the United States,” said Hou. “Brent was prepared to act.”
Brent’s lawyer Hassen Abdellah argued that when his client attended the camp he was “naive, young, impressionable” and it was “speculation” that he would ever commit a violent act.