Philadelphia - A US judge on Thursday is set to decide the prison sentence for Mohammad Hassan Khalid, a Pakistani immigrant high school student who pleaded guilty to providing assistance to al-Qaeda.
Khalid, now 20, is the youngest person ever charged with terrorism-related crimes in the United States. He was arrested in 2011 on charges including providing material support for terrorists for working with a US woman who went by the nickname “Jihad Jane” and had plotted to kill a Swedish artist.
The woman, a suburban Philadelphia housewife whose real name is Colleen LaRose, in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for planning to murder artist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the head of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on a dog.
Khalid, who pleaded guilty to committing related crimes when he was as young as 15 and living in his parents' apartment in suburban Maryland, could have faced up to 15 years in prison but prosecutors have asked for a shorter sentence because he cooperated after his arrest.
He is due in US District Court in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Khalid's attorney Jeffrey Lindy has said his client was easily lured into committing crimes by LaRose, a much older woman.
The link between LaRose and Khalid, and his double life as honor student and online jihadist, were chronicled in a 2011 Reuters investigative series. (Reuters series: reut.rs/1eqk6sJ)
LaRose admitted to following orders in 2009 from alleged al-Qaeda operatives. She travelled to Ireland that fall to meet an Algerian, Ali Damache, whom she believed would train her.
The plot did not materialise and Damache is fighting extradition from Ireland to the United States on terror charges. In court filings, prosecutors said Khalid helped Damache recruit others and helped LaRose destroy evidence.
Officials said Khalid “worked tirelessly” with two other American men now serving long prison terms on terror charges in other failed plots, Emerson Begolly and Reed Stanley Berry. Prosecutors say he helped them translate violent jihad videos from Urdu to English.
Prosecutors also cited online postings in which Khalid tried to raise money for terrorists, but there is no public evidence that anyone ever sent him any money. - Reuters