- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A terror defendant suspected of plotting to cut through the cables that support New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday by a judge in Alexandria who refused to let him withdraw his guilty plea.

Iyman Faris was sentenced to 15 years for aiding and abetting terrorism, plus five years for conspiracy.

According to prosecutors, Faris, 34, traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, carrying out low-level missions for terrorists. He provided sleeping bags, cellular telephones and cash to members of al Qaeda and met with Osama bin Laden in 2000 at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, his accusers said. He also was accused of providing the terror group with information about possible U.S. targets.

Although he is suspected to have investigated the possibility of using a gas cutter to burn through the Brooklyn Bridge’s suspension cables, Faris ultimately recommended through e-mail messages to his contacts against pursuing that option, which he described as “unlikely to succeed.”

Authorities said Faris received attack instructions from top terrorist leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for what they suggested might have been a second wave planned for New York and Washington to follow the attacks of September 11.

Faris pleaded guilty in May, but last month asked to withdraw the plea. U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema would not allow him to, saying she accepted the plea based on what Faris said at the time. However, she preserved his right to appeal the withdrawal attempt.

Faris was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. Since his arrival in the United States in 1994, his primary occupation has been truck driver.

Faris, formerly a resident of Columbus, Ohio, also has used the name Mohammad Rauf.

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