An Ohio trucker, described by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as a betrayer of fellow Americans, received a 20-year prison sentence for helping al Qaeda.
U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Iyman Faris, a.k.a. Mohammad Rauf, 34, after the Columbus resident pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal information. Before the sentencing, Brinkema denied Faris’ request that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, according to information provided by Ashcroft’s office.
Faris received five years for the first count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization and 15 years for the second count of actually providing that support to al Qaeda.
“Iyman Faris – a seemingly hard-working truck driver – betrayed his fellow American citizens by scouting potential terrorist targets for al Qaeda,” Ashcroft said in a statement.
Faris had worked as an independent trucker for several years and is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan. He pleaded guilty May 1 to researching and providing information to al Qaeda on tools needed for possible attacks on American targets and casing a New York City bridge for them.
Faris has admitted to researching ultralight planes for al Qaeda in 2000 and said the organization was looking for an “escape plane.” He also told them about his truck routes and deliveries for airport cargo planes, which interested al Qaeda leaders because cargo planes “would hold more weight and more fuel,” according to the statement.
The operational leader had told Faris that the organization was planning simultaneous attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. In April 2002, Faris researched cutting a New York City bridge’s suspension cables. The leader had also asked him to get tools to derail trains.