Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Deputy prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar, centre, is surrounded after he came out to announce the verdict handed down to five American students being held at the Sargodha jail in Punjab province.
Deputy prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar, centre, is surrounded after he came out to announce the verdict handed down to five American students being held at the Sargodha jail in Punjab province.

Pakistan convicts Americans in terror case

A Pakistani court convicts five US men on terror charges and sentences each to at least 10 years in prison.

A Pakistani court today sentenced five Americans to 10 years in jail each after finding them guilty of waging war against the state and funding a terrorist group, lawyers said. The five, aged 19 to 25, had been on trial in a closed court in a prison in the eastern city of Sargodha since March. The judge found them guilty of two charges, but acquitted them of three others. In a mostly secret trial, each defendant was handed concurrent sentences of 10 and five years and fined 70,000 rupees (Dh3,000). Both the defence and the prosecution vowed to appeal. Rana Bakhtiar, deputy prosecutor general for the Punjab provincial government, said he would appeal for 20-year sentences. The Americans - of Egyptian, Eritrean, Pakistani and Yemeni descent - were arrested in December in Sargodha on charges of plotting a terrorist attack. Umar Farooq, Waqar Hussain, Rami Zamzam, Ahmad Abdullah Mini and Amman Hassan Yammer had faced a maximum punishment of life in prison. "For criminal conspiracy they were sentenced to 10 years in prison plus 50,000 rupees fine," the defence lawyer Hassan Katchela said. "For funding a banned terrorist organisation they were imprisoned for five years each plus 20,000 rupees fine."

Defence lawyers and the prosecution said the clause included "waging war against Pakistan". Pakistani officials have said the young men planned to travel to neighbouring Afghanistan and join up with Taliban-led militants fighting US and NATO troops. The defendants pleaded their innocence and said they had come to Pakistan to attend a wedding and wanted to travel onto Afghanistan to do humanitarian work. They accused the FBI and Pakistani police of torture, but the authorities have flatly denied any ill treatment.

Khalid Farooq, the Pakistani father of Farooq, spoke of his shock at the sentencing and vowed to go all the way with an appeal. "It is a matter of great disappointment. We were not expecting it," he told reporters outside the jail in Sargodha. "We will go to every forum, from the high court to the international court. We will file an appeal in Lahore high court in seven days." The sentencing came three days after the Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to an attempted car bombing in Times Square, warning a New York courtroom of more attacks on the United States until it leaves Muslim lands. Investigators claimed that the Sargodha five planned to travel to South Waziristan, a training ground for militants in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt and a region targeted by a major military operation last year. Although the Pakistani government is a close ally in the US war on al Qa'eda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the country is gripped by widespread anti-Americanism and many blame deteriorating security on the alliance. *AFP

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National