A Pakistani-born Chicago taxi driver who prosecutors say could be heard on FBI wiretaps discussing a plan to bomb a stadium pleaded guilty to attempting to send money to a Pakistani-based terrorist with alleged ties to al Qaeda.
CBS Standing before a federal judge in an orange jumpsuit and his ankles shackled, Raja Lahrasib Khan, 58, said he was pleading guilty to one count of two counts of attempting to provide material support terrorism. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped the other count.
The agreement recommends a sentence of between five and eight years, well short of the maximum 15 years for a conviction of a single count of providing material support. A sentencing date was set for May 30, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Outside court, defense attorney Thomas Durkin said finding jurors who could give his client a fair trial would have been difficult, suggesting that was one reason Khan accepted the deal with prosecutors.
“The word `al Qaeda’ scares the bejesus out of people and that’s all (jurors) have to hear,” he said. “But it was a difficult case … and the (agreement) was fair under the circumstances.”
Khan was arrested in 2010 and accused of taking steps to send cash to Pakistan-based terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri after Kashmiri indicated he needed money to buy explosives. Khan, prosecutors said, believed Kashmiri was getting his orders from Osama bin Laden.
A 35-page complaint affidavit filed after Khan’s arrest also accused him of discussing the possibility of planting bags of bombs around an unspecified stadium, saying in one wiretap, “Put one bag here, one there, one there … you know, boom, boom, boom, boom.”
Khan, though, was never charged with such an attempted attack as prosecutors focused instead on allegations the he sent money intended as aid for Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, al Qaeda
Khan, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, in the 2010 complaint, allegedly said Americans must suffer to fully grasp the plight of Iraq and Afghanistan.