Albanian Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges Based on Mass Surveillance

Albanian Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges Based on Mass Surveillance © REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi

02:17 27.06.2015(updated 02:23 27.06.2015) Get short URL

An Albanian citizen residing in New York has pleaded guilty to attempting to join a jihadist terrorist group in Pakistan after surveillance of his internet communications led to his arrest, the US Justice Department announced in a statement.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Albanian, Agron Hasbajrami, will face up to 20 years for prison for attempting to join terrorist groups in the tribal regions of Pakistan, a base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

“This case is another example that shows that when people in the New York area conspire with, attempt to join or fund a terrorist organization, even in the Tribal Area of Pakistan, they will be uncovered by the agents and detectives of the JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force], and they will face the full consequences of the law,” New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton said in the statement on Friday.

In several e-mails with a person in Pakistan, Hasbajrami had stated he wanted to carry out jihad, the Justice Department said.

Hasbajrami was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport trying to board a plane to Turkey, from where he intended to travel to Pakistan, according to court documents.

Authorities found in his luggage a tent, boots and cold weather clothes. A subsequent search of Hasbajrami’s home found evidence he intended to become join jihad.

Hasbajrami’s communication was identified through the United States’ mass surveillance program, or FISA Amendments Act. As part of the plea deal, the defendant will have a right to appeal the legality of the surveillance.

“As part of the plea, Hasbajrami agreed to be deported from the United States at the conclusion of his sentence, and the government agreed to allow the defendant to preserve his right to challenge on appeal the lawfulness of surveillance obtained or derived from the FISA Amendments Act of 2008,” the statement said.

A New York court ruled in February 2015 the surveillance was admissible in court, the Justice Department said.

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