Mohammad Hassan Khalid, when he was 17 years old, was in touch with Colleen LaRose, “Jihad Jane,” who was plotting to murder Lars Vilks for drawing a cartoon of Muhammad. He has pleaded guilty to “providing material support to terrorists.” Tomorrow he will be sentenced. What no one seems to be asking, however, is how this young man got the idea that those who offended Islam should be murdered. At his mosque? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?
“Young terrorist supporter, co-defendant of ‘Jihad Jane,’ to be sentenced,” by Julie Shaw for the Philadelphia Daily News, March 4:
AT 17, Mohammad Hassan Khalid was the youngest person ever charged in the United States with providing material support to terrorists.
Khalid, a co-defendant of Montgomery County’s “Jihad Jane,” pleaded guilty to the charge in April 2012.
Tomorrow, Khalid, now 20, a former high-school honor student who had received a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, will be sentenced in federal court in Philadelphia.
A Pakistani citizen and legal permanent resident in the U.S., Khalid was living in Ellicott City, Md., with his parents and three siblings when he was arrested July 6, 2011, a couple of months before his 18th birthday and just after his high-school graduation.
The maximum sentence Khalid faces is 15 years behind bars. Prosecutors will ask U.S. District Chief Judge Petrese Tucker for “a significant period of incarceration” but less than 10 years in prison, according to their sentencing memorandum.
Khalid has provided substantial cooperation to the feds since his arrest, the government wrote. “He met approximately 20 times with government agents from this district and elsewhere. He has talked about his activities for dozens of hours, reviewed scores of written documents. . . . There can be no doubt that Khalid’s assistance advanced multiple national security investigations in important ways.”
Yet, Khalid’s “status as a young U.S. terrorist recruit has captured the world’s attention, and this sentencing presents an important opportunity to send a strong message to others in his position who might be enticed by online extremists promising fame and honor,” the feds added.
Because Khalid is not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face deportation proceedings and could be sent back to Pakistan after he serves his sentence.
Jeffrey Lindy, Khalid’s attorney, contended that Khalid and his co-defendants paled in comparison to serious terrorists.
“He was messing around the Internet with Colleen LaRose, who had as much chance killing the cartoonist as the average Joe on the street,” Lindy said. “This was a terrorism case in name only. In the world of suicide bombers, al Qaeda and other serious terrorists, Colleen LaRose and her crew barely even moved the needle on the Richter scale.”
LaRose, 50, who had lived in Pennsburg, Montgomery County, and who was known by her online moniker “Jihad Jane,” pleaded guilty in February 2011 to plotting to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. The plot never came to fruition.
In January, LaRose, who also cooperated with the government, was sentenced by Tucker to 10 years in federal prison.
Lindy said Khalid’s sentencing hearing “finally concludes what probably has been one of my most painful cases.” Khalid, “who has documented mental-health issues” and who because of those issues was “isolated and withdrawn” in Pakistan, felt even more isolated as an adolescent in the United States, Lindy said.
Noting the full scholarship to Johns Hopkins, which Khalid was never able to make use of because of his arrest, Lindy said: “Here is a kid who embodied the American dream. . . . But because of what this kid did and with whom he did it, his life is forever changed.”
Khalid began chatting online with alleged radical Islamists at age 15. The feds said in their sentencing memo that Khalid’s “criminal activities may have occurred predominantly online, but they presented a very real danger to Westerners everywhere.”
“He worked tirelessly posting English translations of violent jihad propaganda in an effort to recruit other like-minded individuals,” they wrote.
The feds accused Khalid of helping co-defendant Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian man who lived in Ireland, with recruiting violent jihadists and helping to “assemble a terrorist cell that planned to train with al Qaeda and execute attacks in the West.”
He was also accused of helping LaRose destroy and hide evidence from the FBI and obtaining a U.S. passport from her, which he intended to give to a “brother” mujahedeen….