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2 Men Sentenced for Paintball 'Jihad' Training

The American Muslims in a Virginia network had pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

April 10, 2004|From Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Two American Muslims accused of training for holy war against the United States by waging paintball battles in the Virginia woods were sentenced to prison Friday.

Randall Todd Royer, 31, and Ibrahim Ahmed Hamdi, 26, were among nine men who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of charges related to their participation in what prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network." Two others were acquitted.

The group used paintball games in 2000 and 2001 as military training in preparation for war against nations deemed hostile to Islam, prosecutors said. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, several members went to Pakistan with the goal of joining the Taliban and fighting U.S. troops, prosecutors said. None actually joined the Taliban.

Royer, a former spokesman for the Muslim American Society, admitted helping members of the conspiracy join the militant Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting use of a firearm in a crime of violence and aiding and abetting the carrying of an explosive during commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Hamdi admitted training with Lashkar in Pakistan in 2000 to enhance his ability to join combat in Chechnya and elsewhere. He pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and to carrying an explosive in the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 15 years.

Three members of the group who were convicted at trial will be sentenced in June. They face maximum life sentences.

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