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Albanian pleads guilty in terror case just 4 years after gaining US residency

Arrested in New York before flying to Turkey en route to Pakistan, the Albanian man had told his contact in a Pakistani terrorist group that he wanted to 'marry with the girls in paradise.'

By Staff writer / April 12, 2012



An Albanian man who was granted permanent residency in the US four years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to providing material support to a listed Islamic terror group operating in Pakistan.

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Agron Hasbajrami was arrested in September as he prepared to fly from New York City on a one-way ticket to Turkey for planned travel through Iran to Pakistan.

Mr. Hasbajrami sent $1,000 to the Pakistan-based group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and expressed his willingness to fight and, if necessary, die in the group’s avowed “holy war” against US forces in the region, according to court documents.

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US District Judge John Gleeson accepted the guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn. Hasbajrami faces up to 15 years in prison and has agreed to be deported after serving any prison sentence.

The case highlights how federal counter-terror agents are using material support statutes to identify potential militant Muslims in the US before they are able to travel overseas and take up arms against American soldiers.

Charging suspected militant Muslims for supporting designated terror groups overseas is an innovation that stems from the Bush administration’s war on terror. Federal agents and prosecutors have used the law to try to identify a suspect’s propensity to engage in criminal acts by exposing his expressed desire to help radical Islamic causes. The material support statute makes it explicitly illegal to give any assistance or help to a specially-designated terror group.  

“The defendant reached across the ocean from Brooklyn to Pakistan, seeking out terrorists in the hopes of becoming one,” US Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

“Once he found what he sought, he pledged his money, his energy, and the end of his own life to the goal of spreading terror abroad,” she said.

Hasbajrami lived in Brooklyn and began sending money to a militant organization in Pakistan in 2010 as a result of a public appeal by the group for funds. His methods were not sophisticated. He simply wired the money via Western Union to an intermediary in Pakistan.

In April 2011, Hasbajrami told his contact in Pakistan – apparently with US agents monitoring the communication – that he wanted to travel to Pakistan and “marry with the girls in paradise,” according to court documents.

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