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Published: Tuesday, 7/13/2010

Two men sent to prison for plot to kill GIs

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two Chicago-area men who admitted their roles in a Toledo-based plot to kill American soldiers overseas were sentenced Monday in federal court on charges of terrorism.

U.S. District Judge James Carr sentenced Zubair Ahmed, 31, to 10 years in prison and imposed an eight-year, four-month sentence on his younger cousin, Khaleel Ahmed.

Both men pleaded guilty in January, 2009, to providing material support to terrorists. The convictions were related to the case against three Toledo men who were found guilty in a 2008 jury trial of plotting to recruit and train terrorists to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Judge Carr said he hoped the sentences would send a message to anyone who is tempted to talk about causing harm or waging a "holy war" against American soldiers.

"My hope is this sentence in the future will be a deterrent to others who might be similarly inclined," he said.

With their parents and siblings in the courtroom, both defendants apologized for their actions.

"I was caught up with the fervor of world events," Zubair Ahmed, of suburban North Chicago, told Judge Carr. "At that time I was looking at U.S. troops as my enemy, which I shouldn't have."

Khaleel Ahmed, of Chicago, said: "I believe the actions I have taken were completely wrong."

Investigators said the cousins traveled to Cairo in March, 2004, with the intention of engaging in acts to murder or maim U.S. military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The pair returned to the United States and around July 4, 2004, attended a Muslim conference in Cleveland, where they discussed training in countersurveillance techniques and sniper rifles with an FBI informant.

Marwan El-Hindi, who along with Mohammad Amawi and Wassim Mazloum were convicted in the 2008 Toledo terror case, introduced the cousins to the informant.

Investigators said the cousins' involvement in terrorist activities continued until their arrest in February, 2007.

Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in a statement: "The sentences send a strong message that we will aggressively go after those who would do harm to our servicemen and servicewomen. There is no greater priority for us than combating those who would do us harm."

El-Hindi, Amawi, and Mazloum were convicted of conspiring to kill and maim people outside the United States and conspiring to provide material support.

Terry Gilbert, a Cleveland lawyer who represents Zubair Ahmed, told Judge Carr that his client's trip to Egypt was an "ill-conceived adventure" and that there were never any intentions to harm U.S. military forces.

Mr. Gilbert also asked for a sentence in the lower end of the 100 to 125 months permitted under federal sentencing guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman urged Judge Carr to give Zubair Ahmed the 10-year sentence, in part, because he attempted to carry out the plot to kill U.S. military soldiers in a five-year plan.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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