Talha Pleads Not Guilty in Connecticut


Two men extradited from Britain pleaded not guilty Saturday in a Connecticut court to federal charges that they provided terrorists in Afghanistan and Chechnya with cash, recruits and equipment.

Babar Ahmad, 38, and Syed Talha Ahsan, 33, were arraigned amid heavy security in U.S. District Court in New Haven hours after arriving in the U.S. after yearslong extradition fights in England. They were kept detained while they await trial in Connecticut.

Ahsan spoke so softly the judge asked him to speak louder at one point. Both men have beards and wore yellow prison uniforms with green sleeves.

“Today, more than at any other time in U.S. history, terrorism investigations involve the identification, disruption and dismantling of material and financial support systems,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly K. Mertz. “Without those support systems, terrorists and terrorist groups simply cannot survive. This investigation underscores Homeland Security investigations and the FBI’s enduring commitment to combating terrorism by uprooting these global and often complex support networks.”

The men are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill persons in a foreign country. Ahmad, who was held without trial for eight years in a British prison, also is charged with money laundering.

Attorneys for the men declined to comment after their brief arraignment. If convicted, they could face life sentences.

The men are accused of operating websites under the name of Azzam Publications, which authorities say provided support to Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime, Chechen rebels and associated terrorist groups. The men provided money, military items, communications equipment, training, safe houses, personnel, transportation, false documentation and identification and other supplies, authorities said.

Ahmad and Ahsan recruited and arranged for individuals to travel to Afghanistan to train for violent jihad, prosecutors said.

Ahmad made efforts to secure GPS devices, Kevlar helmets, night vision goggles, ballistic vests and camouflage uniforms, prosecutors said.

Both men also possessed a classified document discussing a U.S. Navy battle group’s movements and vulnerability to attack, authorities said. A former Navy sailor, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2009 for leaking the details about the battle group to the website. The group was never attacked.

They will be tried in Connecticut, where an Internet service provider was allegedly used to run one of the websites.

“This has been a lengthy process, but the government’s commitment to presenting this case to a jury during a fair and open trial has never wavered,” said U.S. Attorney David Fein.

In an interview that took place after the BBC won a legal battle to speak with him, Ahmad insisted he did not condone terrorism and urged authorities to put him on trial in the U.K. Ahmad acknowledged he had visited Bosnia several times during the 1990s and had been involved in the conflict there.

SOURCE: MyRecordingJournal.com 

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