UK & World News
US Jails Taliban's British Cyber-Jihadists
Two British citizens who operated jihadist websites have been sentenced to a total of nearly 23 years in prison by a US judge.
Babar Ahmad received a sentence of 12 and a half years on Wednesday at a federal court in New Haven, Connecticut.
However, the 40-year-old will receive credit for the 10 years he has already served.
He and Syed Talha Ahsan, 34, pleaded guilty in December to providing support to terrorists. Both were extradited from the UK in 2012.
Ahsan was also sentenced on Wednesday, to time already served of about 10 years.
Although their activities were carried out from the UK, the pair were charged in the US because they used a web service provider based in Connecticut to run one of the websites.
Judge Janet Hall said Ahmad, of Tooting, south London, had supported the Taliban as al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was planning the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"You can't walk away from the fact that what you were doing was enabling Bin Laden to be protected in Afghanistan and to train the men who actually boarded the flights that drove into the Pentagon and World Trade Center," she said.
But she added that Ahmad had no knowledge of the 9/11 plot and there was no evidence he had supported al Qaeda.
Prosecutors had urged Judge Hall to impose a 25-year sentence, but she said Ahmad did not present a risk of becoming involved in future crimes.
US prosecutors said the two men operated a network of internet sites, known as Azzam publications, which solicited worldwide support for the jihadist cause.
The web portals sought to raise money, recruit fighters and seek equipment for terrorists in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Gas masks, Kevlar helmets, ballistic vests, night-vision goggles, GPS devices and camouflage combat suits were among the items they tried to obtain.
Prosecutors said Ashan, also from London, processed orders for videos that promoted jihad and that he attended a training camp in Afghanistan.
But his lawyer said his client had minimal involvement in the case and the military training was for self-defence.
A hush came over the courtroom earlier this week as videos were played from the Azzam.com site, including one showing a Russian soldier being killed by Chechen rebels.
Ahmad's defence lawyer had said that while his client tried to help Muslims under attack in Bosnia and Chechnya, he regretted supporting the Taliban.
Ahmad and Ahsan tried to avoid extradition in British courts and later in the European Court of Human Rights.
Thousands supported Ahmad's eight-year campaign to stay in the UK.
Ahmad received £60,000 in compensation after London's Metropolitan Police admitted he had been injured during the 2003 raid on his house.
The officers involved were prosecuted and cleared.
Ahmad worked in the IT department of the prestigious Imperial College London at the time of his arrest.