Briton jailed for terrorism support

Salisbury Journal: Ashfaq Ahmad, the father of Babar Ahmad, before his son's extradition Ashfaq Ahmad, the father of Babar Ahmad, before his son's extradition

A British computer expert has been sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison in the United States for helping support terrorism through the internet.

Babar Ahmad, from south London, has already spent 10 years behind bars first in the UK and later in the US after he lost a protracted battle against extradition.

Passing sentence in Connecticut, Judge Janet Hall said he would be given credit for the ten years he has already served.

The BBC reported that Ahmad's legal team believe he could be released within about seven and a half months.

The 40-year-old pleaded guilty in December t o supporting terrorists through websites that sought to raise money, recruit fighters and solicit items such as gas masks for the Taliban.

The charges related to the now defunct group of pro-jihad websites operating under the name Azzam Publications and set up in the mid-1990s.

Authorities alleged the sites gave support to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime, while case documents said they requested military suits and gas masks be donated.

Ahmad's admission came a decade after he was first arrested in London in 2003.

He went on to spend eight years behind bars from 2004 until he was extradited in 2012, along with other men including radical preacher Abu Hamza.

At the time it was the longest period any British citizen had been detained without charge since the September 11 attacks.

He was prosecuted in the US because of the role American authorities played in shutting down the Azzam network.

Delivering sentence Judge Hall said Ahmad helped allow Osama bin Laden to be protected when he was plotting the September 11 attacks by supporting the Taliban.

However, she stressed that he had no knowledge of the plot and there was no evidence he supported bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist group.

Ahmad's lawyer said he publicly condemned the September 11 attacks, while he told the court he supported the Taliban because it was under attack, not because he backed bin Laden or al Qaida.

A statement posted on the Free Babar Ahmad Facebook page tonight said: " All praise be to God, today we are finally coming to the end of a very long journey which started over 10 years ago.

"It has been a very difficult and tiresome struggle but at last, we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

"We are elated that this matter is now coming to a close and look forward to welcoming Babar home once more after over a decade.

"We wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Babar's legal team who have worked incredibly hard for the past two years in both fighting the case and supporting Babar.

"We also can never be grateful enough to the hundreds of thousands of our supporters from all over the world who have stood by us and been our companions on this epic journey.

"Verily after hardship there is ease."

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