Trucker Faces Up to 20 Years for Plotting Terrorism

An Ohio trucker is scheduled for sentencing this month for his role in assisting al Qaeda in planning potential terrorist acts in the United States.

Iyman Faris, also known as Mohammad Rauf, 34, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information charge in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., according to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. The charges are providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for informing the terrorist organization about possible U.S. targets for attack.

Faris, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kashmir, had entered his plea May 1, but the plea was not unsealed until June 19.

Newsweek published stories describing an Ohio trucker involved in homeland terrorism plans, but federal officials had not spoken on the record about him. On June 16, an FBI spokesman confirmed an Ohio trucker was involved in terrorism plots revealed by an arrested al Qaeda leader.

Faris faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

During a trip to Pakistan in early 2002, Faris was asked by a person the Justice Department described as Usama bin Laden’s No. 3 man what he could do for al Qaeda. Faris told of his work as a trucker, including his routes and deliveries for airport cargo planes. The leader told him cargo planes interested him because they are heavier and can carry more fuel than other planes.

During that trip, the operational leader told Faris the organization was again planning simultaneous attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. The senior leader talked with him about destroying a N.Y. City bridge, but Faris determined the plans would fail.