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'Virginia jihad' suspects charged with plotting to fight U.S.

From Kevin Bohn
CNN


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Seven Muslim defendants charged with belonging to a "Virginia jihad network" are facing additional charges, according to a new federal indictment.

Two of the men, Randall Royer and Masoud Khan, are charged with conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The other men facing various new charges are Ibrahim Al-Hamdi, Seifullah Chapman, Hammad Abdur-Raheem, Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem and Sabri Benkhala.

All seven men have entered pleas of not guilty to the original charges against them, which include commencing an expedition against a friendly nation and violating the Neutrality Act.

Originally, 11 men were charged in June in the conspiracy, but four of them have subsequently pleaded guilty to various charges.

As part of the conspiracy, the government has alleged the conspirators participated in paintball games in the Virginia countryside to help prepare them for attendance at training camps.

According to the new indictment, the alleged conspirators met four days after the September 11 attacks and discussed obtaining training from Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group fighting India to gain independence for Kashmir.

Prosecutors allege an unindicted co-conspirator told the group that American troops likely to soon arrive in Afghanistan would be legitimate targets of violent jihad.

The men allegedly were told that joining Lashkar-e-Taiba was appropriate because it was on the "correct path," and that Royer could help them join. This unindicted co-conspirator also told the group, according to the government, that training with the group would allow them to engage in violent jihad against the United States and its personnel in Afghanistan.

While the government has not identified the unindicted co-conspirator, sources have told CNN he is Ali Al-Timimi, a Muslim lecturer. Lawyers for Al-Timimi deny he ever encouraged the men to commit violence against the United States or wage jihad against American interests.


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