“Material support” still a valued tool

March 29, 2010

Supporting terrorism is wrong.  Providing “material support” to a terrorist organization is just a fancier way of saying that.

But “material support” is a controversial subject.  The material support provisions of the Patriot Act have been argued before the Supreme Court.  Countries like the Netherlands don’t even acknowledge material support of terrorism as a crime.

But being able to arrest and prosecute individuals for their material support of terrorism is still a critical tool for U.S. law enforcement.  The latest example of this comes from a jihadist taxi cab driver in Chicago who tried to transfer funds to overseas to an Al Qaeda-linked extremist group.  The cabbie also wanted to blow up an American sports stadium.

From Bloomberg:

March 26 — U.S. prosecutors accused a Chicago taxi driver of providing material support to the al-Qaeda terrorist network by attempting to send money overseas.

Raja Lahrasib Khan also allegedly discussed plans to attack an unidentified stadium in the U.S. later this year, according to the criminal complaint and a supporting affidavit unsealed today after Khan’s arrest.

Khan, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, was remanded to federal custody following an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown in Chicago. His next court date is March 30.

“There is probable cause to believe that Khan has, on at least two occasions, attempted to provide material support or resources, namely funds, to a designated terrorist organization,” U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Daniel Glavach said in 35-page affidavit appended to the complaint, identifying al-Qaeda as that group.

He is charged with two counts of providing material support to a terrorist organization. Each count is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment, according to a statement by Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald announcing the charges.

The prosecutor said that while Khan is alleged to have ties to Ilyas Kashmiri, one of four men charged in Chicago with plotting to attack a Danish newspaper, this case is unrelated to that one.

‘Extremist Group’

Kashmiri, a Pakistani man who isn’t in U.S. custody, allegedly leads Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami or HUJI, which prosecutors today called “a Sunni extremist group” with links to al-Qaeda.

Khan allegedly sent $950 from Chicago to an individual in Pakistan last year with instructions to deliver some of that money to Kashmiri. Earlier this month, he allegedly accepted $1,000 from an undercover agent for delivery to Kashmiri.

Read the rest here.

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