Jim Kouri
July 20, 2006
UK Muslim charged in US for conspiracy to aid terrorists
By Jim Kouri

A federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has returned a three-count Indictment charging Syed Talha Ahsan, 25, of London, England, with participating in a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and participating in a conspiracy to kill innocent peoole and damage property in a foreign country.

At the request of the US Government, Ahsan was arrested earlier Wednesday at his residence in London by members of British law enforcement. Subsequent to his arrest, the Indictment, which was returned on June 28, 2006, was ordered unsealed by United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport.

Following his arrest, Ahsan appeared before a magistrate court in London, at which time he was ordered detained pending a bail hearing scheduled for next Wednesday, July 26, in the magistrate court in London.

The court also noted that a formal package from the US Government seeking Ahsan's extradition to the United States would be due within sixty days, or on or before September 22, 2006. To that end, an official extradition request from the US will be transmitted in due course to British authorities, and is expected to be served upon Ahsan shortly.

"These charges are the result of several years of investigative work by Immigration and FBI agents in New Haven, Naval Criminal Investigation Service (CSIS) agents, and several additional law enforcement partners here in the United States and overseas," U.S. Attorney O'Connor stated. "This investigation is ongoing."

The Indictment alleges that, from approximately 1997 through at least August 2004, Ahsan, Babar Ahmad, an organization called Azzam Publications and others conspired to provide material support and resources to persons engaged in acts of terrorism. US officials say that, through the creation and use of various internet web sites, e-mail communications, and other means, these terrorist supporters provided the terrorism groups with a number of items needed for their operations.

The material support and resources included communications equipment, military items, currency, monetary instruments, financial services, and personnel, all of which were designed to recruit for and assist the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen, and to raise funds for terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other places.

US officials allege that members of the conspiracy maintained accounts at a number of Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") and web hosting companies in the United States, including one headquartered in Connecticut. Babar Ahmad and Azzam Publications were previously charged by Indictment in the District of Connecticut in October 2004.

Among other things, the Indictment against Ahsan alleges that, in or about April 2001, he possessed, accessed, modified and re-saved an electronic document containing then-classified United States Navy plans of a US Naval Battle Group operating in the Straits of Hormuz. The document is alleged to have described details about the composition, mission and capabilities of the various ships within the battle group and discussed the Naval Group's vulnerabilities to terrorist attack.

It is alleged that, in or about July 2001, a member of the conspiracy, through e-mail accounts associated with Azzam Publications, communicated with a US Naval enlistee who was sympathetic to the views expressed on the Azzam family of web sites and referred to the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole as a "martyrdom operation." The e-mail encouraged the enlistee to "keep up the psychological warefare [sic]."

The Indictment also alleges that, in December 2003, Babar Ahmad was found in the possession of the electronic document containing the previously classified U.S. Navy plans and the Battle Group's vulnerabilities to terrorist attack.

U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor indicated that the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut looks forward to working with law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom in pursuing Ahsan's extradition to the District of Connecticut to face the pending charges.

If extradited and convicted of the charges, Ahsan faces a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

U.S. Attorney O'Connor praised the substantial efforts of law enforcement authorities from London's Metropolitan Police Service's Anti-Terrorist Branch and the Extradition and International Assistance Unit, both within New Scotland Yard, whose efforts and assistance have been essential in the investigation in this case.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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