A Washington, D.C., cab driver who admitted he attended training camps in Pakistan was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison after he was portrayed as eager to serve a terrorist group.
Mahmud Faruq Brent Al Mutazzim had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiring to help a terrorist organization, the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said the sentence she imposed on the cabbie “is on the low side” of sentences given to terrorism defendants across the country but was the maximum available under the charge.
Defense attorney Hassen Ibn Abdellah called Brent a hardworking family man who might have been “naive, young, impressionable” when he went to the camp in 2002.
Brent, who was born in Akron, Ohio, and recently lived in Gwynn Oak, Md., waved and smiled to family and friends in court but declined to speak before he was sentenced.
The judge said Brent went to Pakistan in 2002 to receive terrorist training from Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization in 2001. His crime involved receiving the training and “then returning home to await his opportunity to put his training into action,” Preska said.
'He offered himself'
Brent was arrested in August 2005 in a case that also ensnared a Florida doctor, Rafiq Abdus Sabir, New York musician Tarik Shah and New York bookstore owner Abdulrahman Farhane. Sabir was convicted of supporting a terrorist organization; Shah and Farhane pleaded guilty.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Hou said that in a May 2005 meeting with Shah, Brent called his decision to receive terrorist training the best decision he had ever made.
“This defendant took action and he offered himself to a terrorist organization,” Hou said.
Farhane was sentenced to 13 years in prison. The others are awaiting sentencing.