- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

A Maryland teacher was convicted yesterday of lending aid to a Pakistani terrorist group, the government’s 11th conviction in its investigation of what it calls a “Virginia jihad network” that used paintball games to train for global holy war.

Ali Asad Chandia, 29, a third-grade teacher at a Muslim school in College Park, was convicted on three of the four counts he faced, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to do the same.

He faces 45 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 18.

The government said Chandia traveled to Pakistan in the months after the September 11 attacks and received military training from a group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting for Muslim control over the disputed Kashmir region on the India-Pakistan border.

The U.S. government designated Lashkar a foreign terrorist group in December 2001.

Upon Chandia’s return to the United States in January 2002, the government argued that Chandia continued his assistance by serving as a chauffeur to a top Lashkar official, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, and helping him ship military training equipment from the United States to Pakistan, including a remote-controlled aircraft and 50,000 paintballs.

Chandia’s attorney argued that his client went to Pakistan to help plan his brother’s wedding and that Chandia didn’t know of Khan’s terrorist links.

Khan was convicted in Great Britain of supporting Lashkar and sentenced earlier this year to nine years in prison.

The jury’s verdict indicates that the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chandia attended a Lashkar camp but met its burden on the assistance that Chandia provided to Khan in the United States.

Chandia, like many other members of the Virginia jihad group, was a disciple of Ali al-Timimi, a U.S.-born Islamic scholar in Fairfax whom the government said enjoyed “rock-star status” among his followers.

Many of al-Timimi’s followers played paintball games in the woods near Fredericksburg, Va., in 2000 and 2001 as a means of military training, but Chandia did not participate in paintball.

Chandia attended a post-September 11 meeting in which al-Timimi warned his followers that the September 11 attacks were a harbinger of an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and nonbelievers and that they were obligated to defend the Taliban against a looming U.S. invasion, according to court testimony.

Four persons who attended that meeting, including Chandia, left for Pakistan in the next weeks and months.

Al-Timimi is serving a life sentence for soliciting treason and urging group members to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Chandia’s attorney, Marvin Miller, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The government obtained 11 convictions in its prosecution of the Virginia jihad group. Two others were acquitted.

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