WASHINGTON: Mohammad Hassan Khalid, 18, a Pakistani citizen and legal permanent resident in the U.S. State of Maryland, on Friday pleaded guilty to conspiring with the now-infamous home-grown terror suspect “Jihad Jane,” to wage violent jihad in major European cities and also in parts of South Asia.
According to officials in the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) Khalid sought to team up with “Jane,” whose real name is Colleen LaRose, and Ali Charaf Damache, 46, an Algerian man residing in Ireland, to set up an organisation consisting of individuals from Europe and the U.S. who would travel to South Asia for explosives training and return to Europe to wage violent jihad.
Their planning was meticulous, authorities suggested, and it revealed that the terror outfit would be divided into a planning team, a research team, an action team, a recruitment team and a finance team. Khalid had embarked on his fundraising venture even by July 2009 when he posted or caused to be posted an online solicitation for funds to support terrorism on behalf of LaRose.
In a clumsy manoeuvre he however left his cyber-fingerprints all over his online campaign when, after he realised that LaRose had been questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he sent fervent electronic communications to multiple online forums requesting the deletion of all posts by LaRose.
The DoJ said in a statement that Khalid faced a potential sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing. This is somewhat less severe than the sentence facing LaRose, who faces a potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine. In February 2011 she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, false statements and attempted identity theft.
Notwithstanding Khalid’s age Assistant Attorney-General Lisa Monaco said, “Today’s plea, which involved a radicalized teen in Maryland who connected with like-minded individuals around the globe via the Internet, underscores the evolving nature of violent extremism today.”
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger added that regardless of a defendant's age or background, the U.S. would always investigate and prosecute violent extremist activity.