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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brit Gets 20 Years for Failed U.S. Terror Camp

(CN) - A British man will serve 20 years behind bars for trying to set up a terrorist training camp in the United States, the Justice Department said Friday.

Haroon Aswat, 41, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in March. He told a judge earlier this year that he "wanted to participate in jihad on behalf of a terrorist organization."

Aswat, a British citizen, was working to help al-Qaida beginning in 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Aswat said in March that he did not know at the time that was the name of the group he was aiding. His conspiracy occurred one year after al-Qaida's attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa, but two years before the group committed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Aswat's charges stemmed from a plan to set up a training camp for Muslim fighters that briefly cropped up among the mountains of Bly, Ore., for a few months of 1999. Nothing ever came of the camp before in-fighting between the extremists caused it to disband, but prosecutors saw a threat in it that inspired wide-ranging prosecution.

The Bly camp's founder, James Ujaama, testified that he chose the site because the terrain was "just like Afghanistan" and it was located in "a pro-militia and firearm state."

Aswat was arrested in Zambia in 2005 and was eventually extradited to the United States in October 2014, according to the government.

He was convicted of providing material support to al-Qaida. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ordered that Aswat be removed from the United States to the United Kingdom after his 20-year prison sentence has been served.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that "justice in international terrorism cases continues to be delivered in American civilian courts."

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