by Ted Rall
NEW YORK–“This is not a crime about thought,” says the assistant U.S. attorney. Then what is it?
Mahmud Faruq Brent, a 30-year-old D.C. taxi driver, is about to spend the next 15 years behind bars for “conspiring to support a terrorist organization.” No one, not even prosecutors, believes that the Ohio-born Brent planned to attack the United States. Brent was convicted of supporting Lakshar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group in Pakistan, and of attending one of its training camps.
“This defendant took action and he offered himself to a terrorist organization,” explains the prosecutor. But all the “action” took place in the would-be jihadi’s brain. There was no terrorist act. There was no crime.
Based in Pakistan, Lakshar-e-Taiba has attacked India, which it seeks to drive out of Kashmir. It has also carried out terrorist acts in Pakistan as part of its campaign to oust the military junta of General Pervez Musharraf. It’s easy to see why Musharraf is afraid of the group. One could understand why the U.S., as Musharraf’s ally, might honor Pakistan’s request to extradite one of its members. But Lakshar-e-Taiba has never attacked a target in the United States, the West–anywhere outside the Asian subcontinent. Why are American taxpayers footing the bill to lock this man up for 15 years?
Abdulrahman Farhane, a Brooklyn bookstore owner accused with Mahmud Brent of supporting the Pakistani group Lakshar-e-Taiba, received 13 years in federal prison. Two others charged in the case are awaiting sentencing.
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