- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2004

Three Muslims who are American citizens were declared guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria of varying charges of conspiracy to support terrorist operations and illegal use of firearms.

The government obtained convictions on all of the most serious charges it filed against the three men: Masoud Khan, 32, of Gaithersburg; Seifullah Chapman, 31, of Alexandria, and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35, of Falls Church. All three face a potential maximum sentence of life in prison.

Judge Leoni Brinkema imposed the convictions after a 15-day trial in which the defendants chose not to be judged by a jury.

Relatives and friends, who filled most of two courtrooms, criticized the verdicts. They generally agreed that the verdicts resulted from an anti-Muslim prejudice arising out of the September 11 terrorists attacks.

Shaker Elsayed, secretary general of the Muslim American Council, said the verdicts were an example of “U.S. Justice Department rule by paranoia.”

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the convictions are “a stark reminder that terrorist organizations are active in the United States. … We will not stand by as United States citizens support terrorist causes.”

Judge Brinkema said she did not believe the testimony of the two defendants who testified. “You proceeded at your own risk if you continue to act in that way,” she said.

Eleven men, all Muslims, were indicted in June. Six subsequently pleaded guilty and five testified against the three who were convicted yesterday. Midway through the trial, Judge Brinkema dismissed charges against Caliph Basha Abdur-Raheem, 29, of Falls Church.

Khan, 32, who served seven years in the Army, was the one defendant who did not testify. He was found guilty of conspiracy, conspiracy to levy war against the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, conspiracy to contribute service to the Taliban, conspiracy to give material support to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, conspiracy to possess and use firearms for a violent crime, and two charges of using a firearm in a crime.

Abdur-Raheem, 35, no relation to Caliph Abdur-Raheem, was found guilty of conspiracy, conspiracy to support Lashkar-e-Taiba, and conspiracy to use firearms in violent crimes.

Chapman, 31, who served in the Marines, was found guilty of conspiracy, conspiracy to support Lashkar-e-Taiba, two counts of conspiracy to use firearms in violent crimes, and using firearms in violent crimes.

Chapman’s attorney, John Zwerling, said prosecutors believe 80 percent of the Muslims in this country “are out to get this country. That has to be corrected. That is not the way American Muslims view this country.”

Abdur-Raheem’s attorney, William Cummings, said numerous government witnesses, including co-defendants, were untruthful. He said prosecutors urged Abdur-Raheem to agree to a plea bargain — a guilty plea and a two-year imprisonment sentence.

After hearing the charges he would plead guilty to, Abdur-Raheem said they were untrue and “‘I therefore cannot plead guilty.’ And for that, he went to trial,” Mr. Cummings said.

Khan now could be sentenced in “excess of 100 years,” said his attorney, Bernard Grimm, “and he’s never got so much as a parking ticket.”

Mr. Grimm said the trial had special emotional appeal for him because his best friend was on the 104th floor of a World Trade Center tower and was killed instantly when the hijacked plane crashed into it on September 11.

“If I thought Mr. Khan had anything to do with that, and Muslim extremism, I would not have represented him,” Mr. Grimm said. “This has to do with John Ashcroft, with George Bush getting re-elected. … Today I’m embarrassed to be an American.”

Khan and Abdur-Raheem are scheduled to be sentenced June 4. Chapman is to be sentenced June 11.

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