Five local men charged with terrorism in Pakistan were convicted Thursday on those charges. A Pakistani court sentenced each man to 10 years in prison today.
Umar Farooq, Ramy Zamzam, Ahmed Minni, Waqar Khan and Aman Hassan Yemer, all in their twenties, were arrested in December after their parents had reported them missing. They all grew up in northern Virginia and met while worshipping at the same Fairfax County mosque.
Prosecutors said e-mail records and witness statements proved they used the Internet to plot terror attacks in Pakistan and nations allied with it. The father of one of the men said they were in Pakistan to attend his son's wedding, but had intended to cross into Afghanistan for humanitarian work.
The FBI is still conducting their own investigation on the men and it’s unclear if they will face any charges in the United States.
The judge handed down two prison terms for each man, one for 10 years on a criminal conspiracy charge, and the other for five years on the charge of funding banned organizations for terrorism. The terms are to be served concurrently.
The men had faced up to life in prison. They were acquitted of three charges, including planning to wage war against the U.S. and Afghanistan, allies of Pakistan.
"I will right away go to the high court, even to the International Court of Justice, to get these innocent youths justice," said Farooq. "I have not had a chance to see my son or the other fellows. I hear they are very frustrated and need to be consoled."
The trial moved with unusual speed, which is rare in Pakistan. The five men will have an opportunity to appeal.
The executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom foundation in Virginia said he has some concerns about how the trial was handled. But Mahdi Bray said his greater concern is that leaders in the Muslim-American community do all they can to protect young men from radicalization, the Associated Press reported.
Bray said he worries that Pakistan was using the trial as an easy opportunity to prove to the United States that they are being tough on terrorism.