On April 27, Syed Hashmi, an American student in New York City born in Pakistan, pled guilty to providing material support to Al-Qaeda, The Associated Press reports. He will serve 15 years in prison, including the four he already has served.
Hashmi was originally arrested in June 2006 at London’s Heathrow Airport, where he intended to depart to his native land of Pakistan. He later admitted to allowing a friend to store clothes, including waterproof socks and sleeping bags, so they could be sent to an Al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan in 2004. He also gave $300 to his friend so he could buy the plane ticket to Pakistan.
Hashmi had earlier led a June 2002 demonstration organized by a pro-Bin Laden group, where he specifically said “Bin Laden is not a terrorist.”
He was originally born in Karachi, but moved early in his life to Queens. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Brooklyn College in 2003 and then went to London for graduate school.
Hashmi’s detention without a trial caused a controversy over civil liberties. According to Al-Jazeera, he had threatened to kill American soldiers after he was apprehended and therefore he could be detained as an “enemy combatant.” He was denied access to the evidence against him and a lawyer.
The New York Daily News reported in August 2008 that 500 academics had signed a letter condemning the treatment of Hashmi.
“Having admitted his guilt, he will now face justice for giving aid to terrorists he knew full well were dedicated to harming Americans,” theNew York Times quoted Preet Bharara, the prosecutor, as saying.