BRITISH CITIZEN CHARGED WITH PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT OF TERRORISM
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment
charging a London man with several terrorism-related crimes, U.S. Attorney
Kevin J. O'Connor of the District of Connecticut announced today. Syed Talha
Ahsan, 26, was charged with participating in a conspiracy to provide material
support to terrorists; aiding and abetting others in providing material support
to terrorists; and participating in a conspiracy to kill, maim or injure persons
or damage property in a foreign country.
At the request of the U.S. government, Ahsan was arrested earlier today
at his residence in London by British law enforcement authorities. Following
his arrest, the indictment was ordered unsealed by U.S. Magistrate Judge
Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, Conn. Ahsan appeared before a magistrate
court in London, at which time he was ordered detained pending a bail hearing
scheduled for July 26, 2006. The court also noted that a formal package
from the U.S. government seeking Ahsan's extradition to the United States
would be due within 60 days, on or before Sept. 22, 2006. An official extradition
request from the U.S. government will be transmitted in due course to British
authorities and is expected to be served upon Ahsan shortly.
"These charges are the result of several years of investigative
work by ICE and FBI agents in New Haven, NCIS agents, and several additional
law enforcement partners here in the United States and overseas," U.S.
Attorney O'Connor stated. "This investigation is ongoing."
The indictment alleges that from approximately 1997 through at least
August 2004, Ahsan conspired with Babar Ahmad, an organization called Azzam
Publications and others to provide material support and resources to persons
engaged in acts of terrorism through the creation and use of various Internet
Web sites, e-mail communications and other means. The material support
and resources consisted of expert advice and assistance, communications
equipment, military items, currency, monetary instruments, financial services
and personnel. All of this material support was designed to assist and
recruit for the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen, as well as to raise
funds for terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other places.
It is alleged that members of the conspiracy maintained accounts at a number
of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Web hosting companies in the United
States, including one headquartered in Connecticut.
Babar Ahmad and Azzam Publications were previously charged by indictment
in the District of Connecticut in October 2004.
Among other things,
the indictment alleges that in or about April 2001, Ahsan possessed,
accessed, modified and re-saved an electronic document containing then-classified
U.S. Navy plans of a naval battle group operating in the Straits of Hormuz.
The document is alleged to have set forth details regarding the composition,
mission and capabilities of the various ships within the battle group
and its vulnerabilities to terrorist attack. It is alleged that in or
about July 2001, a member of the conspiracy used e-mail accounts associated
with Azzam Publications to communicate with a U.S. Naval enlistee who
was sympathetic to the views expressed on the Azzam family of Web sites
and referred to the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole as a "martyrdom operation." The e-mail encouraged
the enlistee to "keep up the psychological warefare [sic]."
The indictment further alleges that, in or about December 2003, Babar
Ahmad was found in possession of the electronic document containing the
previously classified U.S. Navy plans and the battle group's vulnerabilities
to terrorist attack.
If extradited and convicted of the charges, Ahsan faces a maximum term
of life in prison. Defendants charged in indictments are presumed innocent
unless or until proven guilty in court.
This case is being investigated by a task force in Connecticut consisting
of special agents of the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration
of Customs Enforcement, as well as law enforcement agents from the FBI's
Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation
Division and Electronic Crimes Program, the Defense Criminal Investigative
Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
U.S. Attorney O'Connor praised the substantial efforts of law enforcement
authorities from the Metropolitan Police Service's Anti-Terrorist Branch
and the Extradition and International Assistance Unit, both within New
Scotland Yard, whose efforts and assistance have been essential in the
investigation in this case.
The case is being prosecuted by a team of federal prosecutors including
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Danaher, William Nardini and Stephen Reynolds
from the District of Connecticut; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark
G. Califano from the District of Connecticut; Trial Attorney Andrew Levchuk
from the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section of the Department
of Justice; and Trial Attorney Alexis Collins from the Counter-Terrorism
Section of the Department of Justice.
CONTACT: Tom Carson