- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

Three men accused in what federal authorities described as a scheme by Islamic extremists to engage in “holy jihad” to drive India out of the disputed Kashmir territory in South Asia were sentenced yesterday to prison by a federal judge in Virginia.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria sentenced Yong Ki Kwon, 27, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Fairfax, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, 27, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen who lived in Alexandria, and Donald T. Surratt, 30, a former U.S. soldier of Suitland, to terms ranging from three to 11 years following guilty pleas in August to conspiracy and weapons charges.

The three men were among 11 named in a 41-count indictment handed up in June in a conspiracy to “prepare for and engage in violent jihad” against foreign targets. Nine of the 11 were identified as U.S. citizens.

Hasan was sentenced to 11 years in prison, Kwon to 11 years, and Surratt to three years and 10 months. Hasan and Kwon could have received life sentences, while Surratt faced up to 15 years. All three have agreed to cooperate with authorities in the government’s ongoing investigation.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said the men were members of an extremist Muslim group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba, listed by the State Department in 2001 as a terrorist organization. He said they “secretly plotted in this community and perversely planned and traveled to camps in Pakistan” to carry out the scheme.

Kashmir is a disputed border area claimed by both India and Pakistan.

At least a dozen homes were searched in raids during the arrests and FBI agents confiscated an assortment of weapons, ammunition and high-powered scopes, along with several unidentified documents.

Authorities said there was no specific information the men planned any attacks in the United States, although the indictment noted they had “an intent to serve in armed hostility against the United States” and that one had an Internet photo of the FBI headquarters building in Washington.

Search warrants in the probe sought “materials relating to any kind of military-style training, jihad, violence against the United States, support of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and/or any other terrorist group.” They also authorized the seizure of literature concerning Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Others indicted and pleading not guilty were Randall T. Royer, 30, of Falls Church; Ibrahim Ahmed al-Hamdi of Alexandria; Masoud Ahmad Khan, 31, of Gaithersburg; Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35, of Falls Church; Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, 29, of Arlington; Sabri Benkhala, 28; and Seifullah Chapman, 30, also of Alexandria.

Another man, Mohammed Aatique, 30, of Norristown, Pa., pleaded guilty in September and is awaiting sentencing.

The indictment said the men conspired and trained at shooting ranges and other locations in Maryland and Virginia with AK-47 assault rifles, other military weapons and equipment, including paintball guns, from early 2000 through May for possible military action in Kashmir.

Other training, including military tactics, also took place in St. Louis and at the Quantico Marine Corps base in Prince William County. Three of the men, including Surratt, are former U.S. military personnel who reportedly assisted in training the others.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad, a Sunni anti-U.S. missionary organization formed in 1989 and led by Abdul Wahid Kashmiri. It is one of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against Indian rule.

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