The cabbie, the bookstore owner and Shah all pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, and settled for jail sentences ranging from 13 to 15 years, but Sabir's case went to trial, and he was just convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
In spite of evidence to the contrary, he tried to weasel out of a conviction by claiming stupidity. He told the jury he thought he was pledging support to all his Muslim brothers, not Bin Laden, and stated that he had no idea "Sheik Osama" actually meant Osama Bin Laden. Yeah, right. He said the pledge was in Arabic and, as he's not fluent, he wasn't fully aware of what he was pledging about or to. [snort]
And, his testimony was full of contradictions. First of all, he said at one point,
"I am not a member of al-Qaida. It is wrong to kill.......no way I'm going to align myself with al-Qaida. That is just not me.....I never had any thoughts about them whatsoever and all the nasty things they have done around the world, killing people, innocent people mostly and the big atrocities they have done around the world."But at another point, during the trial, under cross-examination, he admitted
to a history of family violence, a fascination with weapons and a belief that good Muslims should engage in armed jihad, or holy war. U.S. Attorney Victor Hou asked Sabir about an audiotape found at his house, in which a religious lecturer said God would "destroy the disbelievers." "That's God's word. I have to believe in it," Sabir said. They also discussed passages from religious books. One said Jews should be expelled from the Arabian peninsula. Another said Muslims are obligated to obey an imam who declares war against nonbelievers. Hou asked Sabir whether he agreed with both passages, and he said yes -- but added that Muslims are only required to follow such instructions from a legitimate religious authority. Hou pressed him further: "You believe that you must participate in armed jihad, if you get a chance to?" "Yes," Sabir answered, but he said only in a legitimate conflict. The prosecutor also brought up writings in which Sabir expressed disgust for American capitalism and his displeasure with the government after it tried to collect tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.So, we have the Doctor, the Jazz Musician, the Cabbie and the Bookstore Owner all guilty of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Seemingly ordinary people with jobs, some with families. Sabir, a Polygamist, had 4 wives, although only 2 at one time. Any of them could have been your next door neighbour. They were someone's next door neighbour. I find that monumentally scary, particularly because they weren't your garden variety, middle-eastern type terrorists. These were ordinary folk. Sabir was a Columbia University-educated doctor. Shah a jazz musician, martial artist expert.
Sabir still insists he was not cognizant of the fact that he was pledging his loyalty to Al-Qaida, but the tape is incontrovertible proof. I don't buy his ignorance. And I've talked before about taking responsibility for our actions. If you're gonna play with fire, then you better be willing to get burned.
And, as the saying goes: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck.......
Although in this case... it 'aint AFLAC!