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Three American Muslims Convicted of Conspiring to Support Terrorism

March 05, 2004|From Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Three American Muslims accused of training for holy war against the United States by waging paintball battles in the Virginia woods were convicted Thursday of conspiring to support terrorism.

Prosecutors said the three were part of a "Virginia jihad network" that used paintball games in 2000 and 2001 to train for holy war around the globe. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the group allegedly focused its efforts on defending the Taliban.

Two of the defendants were accused of traveling to Pakistan to train with a terrorist group.

Masoud Khan, 34, of Gaithersburg, Md., was found guilty of the most serious charges, including conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to contribute services to the Taliban.

Seifullah Chapman, 31, of Alexandria and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35, of Falls Church, Va., were also convicted on terrorism conspiracy counts.

"These convictions are a stark reminder that terrorist organizations are active in the United States," Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft said.

The defendants waived a jury trial and were convicted by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who said she did not believe the testimony of the two defendants who took the stand.

Muslim activists held a news conference outside the courthouse to denounce the government's treatment of Muslims after Sept. 11. Bernie Grimm, who represented Khan, said the case was the result of "9/11 hysteria."

Firearms convictions related to the conspiracy charges require a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 years for Khan. Chapman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years; Abdur-Raheem does not face a minimum term.

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