The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DoJ) said that three Pakistani citizens, arrested earlier this year in Miami, have pleaded guilty to providing material support to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
In a statement issued by the FBI, the three accused, named Irfanul Haq, Qasim Ali and Zahid Yousuf, pleaded guilty before a US district judge in Washington to the count of “conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation.” The three were accused of trying to smuggle a “purported TTP member” into the US.
In March 2011, the three were arrested in Miami on the count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling. According to the FBI, “Haq, Ali and Yousaf admitted that between January 3 and March 10, 2011, they conspired to provide material support to the TTP in the form of false documentation and identification, knowing that the TTP engages in terrorist activity and terrorism.
“According to court documents, Haq, Ali and Yousaf conducted a human smuggling operation in Quito, Ecuador, that attempted to smuggle an individual they believed to be a member of the TTP from Pakistan into the US.”
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Division John V Gillies: “These criminals said they didn’t care if the men they smuggled ‘swept floors or blow up’ something. As long as they got paid, they did not care if innocent people would be killed in a potential terrorist attack.”
Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer said: “For financial profit, they were willing to jeopardise the safety and security of the American people.”
The FBI and DoJ said that the court documents presented indicated that “law enforcement agents directed confidential sources to ask the defendants, who were residing in Ecuador at the time, for their assistance in smuggling a fictitious person from Pakistan to the US.
“Over the course of the ensuing negotiations, the defendants were made aware that the person to be smuggled was a member of the TTP who was blacklisted in Pakistan.”
The defendants, said the DoJ, agreed to help smuggle the person despite knowing that the person was allegedly affiliated with the TTP.
The three defendants are alleged to have accepted payment from the sources for the human smuggling operation and procured a false Pakistani passport for the TTP member.
The maximum sentence that the three could face is 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The FBI also said that the defendants have agreed that they will be deported back to Pakistan after they complete serving their sentences. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in December this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2011.