updated 5/17/2005 8:30:55 AM ET 2005-05-17T12:30:55

A judge ruled Tuesday that a British man can be extradited to the United States to face charges of supporting terrorism, conspiring to kill Americans and running a Web site that U.S. authorities say was used to fund terrorists.

The United States has promised not to seek the death penalty for Babar Ahmad. Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the top British official in charge of law and order, has 60 days to decide whether Ahmad will be extradited.

Ahmad’s lawyers said they would appeal the ruling. The 31-year-old computer specialist has been in custody since his August arrest on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Acknowledging that the case was “difficult and troubling,” Judge Timothy Workman said he accepted assurances by U.S. authorities that they would not seek the death penalty or declare Ahmad an “enemy combatant,” a category applied to prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and one that affords fewer legal protections.

'Scapegoat' claim
Ahmad’s lawyer, Muddassar Arani, said her client “has been made a scapegoat.”

“The judge stated that this is a difficult and troubling case,” she said. “You have to ask yourself a fundamental question — why was Babar not charged in this country? The reason he was not charged in this country is that there was not sufficient evidence.”

Ahmad, who was indicted in Connecticut in October, is accused of running several Web sites, including Azzam.com, which investigators say was used to recruit members of the al-Qaida terror network, Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban network and Chechen rebel fighters in Russia and to outfit them with gas masks, night-vision goggles and camouflage gear.

'Fast track' procedure
Ahmad was in Arizona in 1998 and allegedly met with Yaser Al Jhani, a member of the Islamic mujahedeen militia.

Ahmad’s extradition case is being heard in Britain under contentious “fast track” extradition procedures that came into effect in January 2004.

The new rules lessen the burden of proof in some cases, allowing certain countries — including the United States — to provide “information” rather than evidence that a crime has been committed.

Outside Bow Street Magistrates’ court in central London, several dozen Ahmad supporters rallied to oppose his extradition.

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