PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An immigrant teen who had earned a scholarship to an elite U.S. college but became enamored of Jihadist causes was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.
Mohammad Hassan Khalid had earned a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University after just a few years in the United States, where his family was building a new life after leaving Pakistan.
As his parents and siblings worked to achieve the American dream, he retreated to his bedroom in a cramped apartment near Baltimore, where he came into contact online with Coleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” in YouTube postings.
“The upheavals of my life were distorted into a force of hate so strong that it wrapped me in its claws,” Khalid, now 21, told U.S. Judge Peterese Tucker. He said he had trouble speaking without being misunderstood.
Defense lawyers argued that Khalid was isolated and vulnerable because he was young, an immigrant and had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder diagnosed since his arrest.
Federal prosecutors say Khalid met LaRose and other extremists online when he was 15 and used his “brilliance and eloquence” to help them translate documents and try to recruit westerners. That got the attention of the FBI, which visited Khalid repeatedly when he was 15 and 16.
“The FBI tried very sincerely to try to talk him out of his criminal conduct because of his youth. He wasn’t interested,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennfier Arbittier Williams argued. “It was his persistent desire to be an online hero in the world of Jihad” that got him into trouble, she said.
Since his 2011 arrest, Khalid has given significant help to U.S. officials pursuing various al-Qaida offshoots, assistance that took years off his potential sentence of 15 years for providing material aid to terrorists.
LaRose got a 10-year term in January for agreeing to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who drew a cartoon that had offended Muslims, while another American woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, got eight years. Both had moved to Ireland to join an alleged terror cell.
“Colleen LaRose had as much chance of killing Lars Vilks as I did. No chance,” Khalid’s defense lawyer, Jeff Lindy, argued Thursday. He called the plot, which never led to an attack, “half-baked,” and said Khalid’s role fell far short of criminal conspiracy.
Khalid never left Maryland, but he opened a box LaRose had sent him that contained a passport and money. He sent some of the items to contacts in Ireland.
In court Thursday, Khalid said he hopes to rebuild his life with his family in the U.S., but knows he could be deported.
The gaunt young man hung his head and fought back tears Thursday as lawyers debated whether he was likely to be deported. That remains a question for immigration officials, not Tucker.
Khalid was arrested just before he turned 18, becoming the rare juvenile charged in a federal terrorism case. He could leave prison in about 14 months, with time off for good behavior. The judge did order mental health treatment in prison and three years of supervised release.
His parents and siblings stifled tears during the hearing. His older brother, who also earned a college scholarship, had tried to lure him away from the computer, to no avail, Khalid’s lawyers said.
Like BlackAmericaWeb.com on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31