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American Admits Helping Al Qaeda; Plea Bargains With Justice Department

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2003 – A naturalized American citizen from Columbus, Ohio, reached a plea-bargain agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General John Ashcroft said here June 19.

Speaking at a press conference, Ashcroft reported that Kashmir-born Iyman Faris, a 34-year-old independent truck driver who came to the United States in 1994, had pleaded guilty for consorting with al Qaeda.

"We have taken another American-based al Qaeda operative off the streets," Ashcroft declared. In his plea arrangement, Faris had agreed to further cooperate with law enforcement officials.

Faris "appeared to be a hard-working, American truck driver," the Attorney General pointed out.

However, Faris had "secretly scouted terrorist (strike) sites" for al Qaeda," Ashcroft noted, "that could have killed many of his fellow citizens."

Ashcroft said Faris -- who had once met al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- had provided money to the terrorist organization, scouted out targets, such as bridges and railroads, to attack in America and provided information about ultra light aircraft.

Faris' plea bargain "highlights the very real threats that still exist here at home in the United States of America in the war against terrorism," Ashcroft asserted.

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