Conviction in Houston Taliban case
One of four men accused in the so-called Houston Taliban case was found guilty Tuesday of unlawful possession of a firearm.The story goes on to describe others charged at the same time for similar or more serious violations. The CAIR connection to the defendants is interesting. The organization has had ties to Hamas and it has aggressively tried to defend Muslims in this country who have come under suspicion in terror related cases.
Shiraz Syed Qazi, 26, waived his right to a jury trial, opting for a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal. The trial lasted 15 minutes.
Qazi and the others arrested last year are accused of material support of terrorism by training to fight with the Taliban against U.S.-led forces.
A July 2005 camping trip in Willis, north of Conroe, was part of the conspiracy, FBI officials have said. Agents used Qazi's acknowledgment that "he overheard statements over that weekend" to help connect him to the terrorist plot.
Qazi, a Pakistani, appears in photographs with a semi-automatic weapon.
His supporters have said he went on a weekend shooting trip, which is common recreation in Texas.
Federal public defender Brent Newton, who is representing Qazi, filed court papers acknowledging that Qazi knowingly possessed a semi-automatic weapon.
After court, Newton told Qazi's family and friends that the maximum punishment is 10 years in prison. But, he said, Qazi likely will serve one year because of his clean criminal record.
Government officials contend it is illegal for a person with a nonimmigrant visa to possess a firearm.
Before his arrest in late November, Qazi attended Houston Community College on a student visa.
The men's supporters have created a Web site and blog called "Houston Muslims Falsely Accused" at www.faketerror.com.
The site calls the four men "Muslims falsely arrested on make-believe terrorism charges to cause 'fake terror.' "
Qazi's supporters in the courtroom included a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group.