A Dawsonville man was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison Monday, six months after his June conviction on terror charges.
Former Georgia Tech student Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, and co-conspirator Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, of Roswell were sentenced Monday in federal court after prosecutors successfully argued their videos of several Washington, D.C., landmarks, though amateurish, showed Ahmed’s willingness to provide aid to known terrorists
U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr., sentenced Sadequee to 17 years in prison, to be followed by 30 years of supervised release. Ahmed’s sentence also will be followed by 30 years of supervised release.
"With their words and their actions, these defendants supported the wrongheaded but very dangerous idea that armed violence aimed at American interests will force our government and our people to change our policies. That is terrorism, and it will not succeed," said Sally Quillian Yates, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. "The risk posed by men such as these defendants continues, both here and abroad. Hopefully, meaningful sentences such as these will make our citizens and our soldiers safer around the world as the message is sent that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who would ally themselves with terrorists."
Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan in 1984, came to the United States in the mid-1990s. He moved to Dawsonville in 2003 after his father got a job teaching computer science at North Georgia College & State University. Ahmed attended high school in Dawsonville, then college at North Georgia College and Georgia Tech.
He was living in an off-campus apartment in Atlanta at the time of his 2006 arrest.
In 2005, Ahmed took a bus with Sadequee to Canada, where they met with others who shared their views,
according to prosecutors. Ahmed allegedly spoke of attacking Dobbins Air Reserve Base or using lasers to disrupt global positioning system satellites, plots that never got past the talking stages.
According to court testimony, Ahmed and Sadequee later drove in Ahmed’s truck to Washington, where they shot poor-quality "casing" videos of locations that included the World Bank Building and Pentagon.
A voice can be heard in one of the Pentagon videos saying, "this is where our brothers attacked."
Ahmed told FBI interviewers the videos were meant to earn the respect and trust of extremists abroad. The videos were later found on the computers of two terror suspects arrested in London, and the camera that shot them was eventually traced back to the Dawsonville home of Ahmed’s parents.
Ahmed’s family had little reaction in June when he was convicted.
His father, Syed Riaz Ahmed, said in June after the conviction, "We were expecting it ... that’s what the system’s supposed to do."
The senior Ahmed said his son never harmed anyone.
"You think something and you’re guilty of doing something in America," he said.
The defendant’s older sister, Mariam Ahmed, who traveled from Pakistan for the trial, said in June she felt her brother was prosecuted for his attitude rather than actions.
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, "The radicalization of U.S. citizens by jihadist recruiters abroad is a very real and growing concern that the FBI and the U.S. government as a whole must deal with. The FBI is charged with preventing terrorist attacks before they occur and we are committed to this task. Individuals engaged in such activities as these two individuals cannot successfully argue that such activities are constitutionally protected."
Sadequee, who was found guilty in August, was born in Fairfax, Va., in 1986. He attended school in the United States, Canada and Bangladesh. In December 2001, while living in Bangladesh, he sought to join the Taliban, to help them in their fight against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to Yates and the evidence presented during the trial.
Times staff writer Stephen Gurr contributed to this story.