From The National Post
U.S. man linked to ‘Toronto 18’ gets 17 years for conspiracy to support terror
Agence France-Presse Published: Monday, December 14, 2009
AFP/AFP/Getty Images Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, who has been linked to the ‘Toronto 18,’ has been sentenced in Atlanta to 17 years in prison for supporting terror groups.
ATLANTA, Georgia — A Pakistan-born US citizen was sentenced Monday to 17 years in prison for supporting terror groups by sending videos of US landmarks abroad and plotting “violent jihad” in Europe.
Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, refused to stand when judge William Duffey, a former US attorney, asked him several times to stand for sentencing.
During the trial, prosecutors said Sadequee and his co-conspirators developed relationships over the Internet and maintained contact online, along with other “supporters of violent jihad” in the United States, Canada, Britain, Pakistan, Bosnia and beyond.
The young man, prosecutors said, traveled to Canada to meet other militants, including members of the “Toronto 18” Al-Qaeda-inspired group, and to Bangladesh, where he sent an email in 2001 when he was only 15 seeking to join the Taliban to fight US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Judge Duffey had allowed to Sadequee 44 minutes in court to explain to the court why a harsh sentence should not be imposed.
But Sadequee instead used the time to explain his religious beliefs, saying that he would not be judged by one man.
“I’ll say this, our Gods are very different,” Judge Duffey said to Sadequee. “This is a day of reckoning for you, Mr Sadequee. This is to deter you and to deter others from this conduct.”
Sadequee was found guilty of sending videos he had made of Washington landmarks to a recruiter for Al-Qaeda. Prosecutors also told the jury that he tried to get into a terrorist training camp and that Sadequee also tried to recruit a 17-year-old from Culver City, California, for martyrdom.
The crowded courtroom was filled with media and supporters of Sadequee.
After the prosecution asked for a 20-year sentence, Sadequee spoke for 21 minutes about his religious beliefs before Duffey interrupted him and reminded him that this was a sentencing hearing and he was expected to talk about why the maximum should not be imposed.
“I have not and I will not request any sentence,” Sadequee said. “It does not matter to me. I submit to no one’s authority but to the authority of God.”
As to the impact of his speech on his sentencing, Sadequee said, “If it makes it less, it makes it less. If it makes it worse, it makes it worse.”
Sadequee told Duffey he needed “less than two hours” to finish his prepared comments, but Duffey said he would grant Sadequee another 20 minutes and allowed him to speak for another 28 minutes.
Don Samuel, an Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney, said he would discuss with Sadequee the possibility of an appeal. One reason Duffey allowed Sadequee almost and an hour to speak to the court was to try and avoid reversal of the sentence on the grounds Sadequee did not get a fair hearing.
“This is not about your faith, this is about your conduct,” Duffey told Sadequee before imposing the sentence. Duffey said Sadequee engaged in “vigilante justice” and the judge said he was not swayed by what he called “generic letters” from Sadequee supporters asking for leniency.
Sadequee’s convicted co-conspirator Syed Haris Ahmed was to be sentenced later Monday.