SARGODHA, Pakistan — A prosecutor says a Pakistani court has convicted five Americans on terror charges and sentenced each to at least 10 years in prison. Rana Bakhtiar made the announcement Thursday in the Punjab town of Sargodha. He says the men have the right to appeal.
The five young Muslims from the Washington, D.C. area, were arrested in Pakistan in December after their families reported them missing.
The case is one of several involving alleged "homegrown" American militants linked to Pakistan, but the only one being tried in a Pakistani court. The defense attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.
Police deployed extra patrols and barriers around a Pakistani court Thursday ahead of an expected verdict in the trial of five Americans accused of plotting terrorist attacks. The five young Muslims from the Washington, D.C. area, were arrested in Pakistan in December after their families reported them missing. The case is one of several involving alleged "homegrown" American militants linked to Pakistan, but the only one being tried in a Pakistani court.
Prosecutors have said the expect a guilty verdict, but the men's lawyers insist they are innocent. On Thursday morning, the road in front of the court building in the Punjab province town of Sargodha was blocked off, while police vehicles swarmed the scene. The trial is off limits to journalists and observers and is being heard by a single judge in a special anti-terrorism court. U.S. officials have said little about the trial. Washington is trying to counter anti-American sentiment in Pakistan's government, security forces and media, but is also pressing Islamabad to crack down hard on militancy. The men have been identified as Ramy Zamzam of Egyptian descent, Waqar Khan and Umar Farooq of Pakistani descent, and Aman Hassan Yemer and Ahmed Minni of Ethiopian descent. One allegedly left behind a farewell video in the United States showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.
Prosecutors say they have presented evidence such as e-mail records and witness statements backing up their contention the men were plotting terror attacks in Pakistan and conspired to wage war against nations allied with it, a reference to Afghanistan, where the men were alleged to have been traveling.
Author: Zarar Khan