March 7, 2011 -- The U.S. government formally requested the early release of a convicted terrorist from federal prison, even though the terrorist admitted that he continued to support the killing of U.S. soldiers serving in Muslim countries.
Mohammed Babar, born and raised in New York City, was arrested in 2004 and pled guilty to four counts of providing material support to al Qaeda and one count of providing funds to Al Qaeda. After Babar had served four years and eight months, he was released on bail in late 2008.
In late 2010, the government filed a sealed request for leniency for Babar because of his "extraordinary cooperation" in terror investigations, asking for an "appropriate reduction" in his sentence even though federal sentencing guidelines indicate a sentence of 30 to 70 years in prison. The letter, now unsealed, notes that he was critical in securing conviction in four cases in three countries.
After the request, a judge sentenced Babar to 10 years of supervised release and a court fee of $500.
"According to Babar," says the request for leniency, dated Nov. 23, 2010, "he still supports today the killing of American military service members on battlefields in Muslim countries. Babar has advised that he also supports the killing of Americans (both military and civilian) in Muslim countries 'occupied' by the United States."
CLICK HERE to read the full letter in PDF form.
Babar joined a fundamentalist Muslim group called al-Muhajiroun while a student at the State University of New York-Stonybrook in 2000. Nine days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Babar moved to Pakistan "to provide support to the Afghan jihad," according to the leniency request.
In November, a British television report described him as a "Taliban New Yorker" who helped U.K. citizens travel to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban. "I am willing to kill the Americans," Babar states in the report. "I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan. And every American solider I see in Pakistan."
During the next three years, Babar moved back and forth between London and Pakistan. Federal authorities say he provided supplies and funds to al Qaeda, and helped set up a jihadi training camp. In April 2004, after returning to the U.S., he was arrested by the FBI as a material witness.
Feds: Babar's Help 'Extraordinary'
Babar pled guilty in June 2004, but his sentencing was deferred. According to the government, he has since provided significant help to the U.S. government, as well as the Canadian and U.K. governments, in terror investigations. As a result, the government asked for an "appropriate reduction" in his sentence.
"Over the last six and a half years, the level of assistance provided by Babar to both the U.S. Government and foreign governments has been more than substantial," says the leniency request. "It has been extraordinary." According to the letter, he met with authorities from the U.S. government and foreign governments on nearly 100 occasions in total during which he provided information about organizations and individuals engaged in terrorist activities in various parts of the world.
The letter cites Babar's help in 2006 in convicting Omar Khyam and four other men for plotting to detonate fertilizer bombs in England. He testified for 15 days, and all five plotters received life sentences.
Two years later, Babar testified in Canada against Mohammad Momin Khawaja for his role in the same bomb plot. Khawaja was convicted of terrorism offenses, and sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison.
Babar also testified via video at the U.K. trial and retrial of two plotters in the London bus and train bombings that killed more than 50 people. At retrial, both defendants were sentenced to seven years in prison.
According to U.S., government officials Babar's cooperation was instrumental to the cases in England, where there is no mechanism for a cooperation agreement.
"The difference in our system is that they don't have a mechanism for cooperation," one official said, "and as part of the cooperation agreement he testified in England.
In the U.S., says the leniency request, Babar was "instrumental in securing the guilty plea" of Syed Hashmi in the Southern District of New York to a count of conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda. Babar had met Hashmi when he joined the fundamentalist Islamic group in New York in 2000, and maintained ties with him until his own arrest in 2004.