“Ohio al-Qaeda” defendant gets 20 years

US citizen and accused al-Qaeda member Christopher Paul was sentenced to 20 years in prison Feb. 26 for conspiring to conduct a terrorist bombing campaign against targets in the US and Europe. Paul was sentenced by Judge Gregory Frost of the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Paul pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in June 2008, agreeing to a sentence of 20 years.

In the statement, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen [official profile] said:

Today’s sentence brings an end to the long, militant career of Christopher Paul, an Ohio native who joined al-Qaeda in the early 1990s, fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia and conspired with others to target Americans both at home and abroad. His lengthy prison term demonstrates our continuing resolve to protect the American public against terrorism.

Paul was charged in April 2007 with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, and providing material support and resources to terrorists.

Paul is allegedly connected to two other men from Columbus who have also been indicted on terrorism charges. Iyman Faris, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2003 to charges of conspiring to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, attended the same mosque and became friends with Paul. Nuradin Abdi, a Somali national who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, used Paul as a reference on a government employment application. According to investigators, Paul traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 1990s to receive military training at an al-Qaeda training camp and, upon his return to the US, continued to funnel money and other resources to al-Qaeda. The indictment also alleges that Paul provided explosives training to co-conspirators in Germany to carry out future attacks on European and United States targets. (Jurist, Feb. 26)

Are we to assume that there really is a connection to al-Qaeda here, in vivid contrast to the numerous highly specious domestic terrorism convictions of recent years?

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