A former honor student and Muslim was sentenced today to five years in prison.
Baltimore-area high school honors student Mohammed Hassan Khalid was arrested and charged with material support of terrorism in 2011. (Everest)
Khalid pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiring to assist American Islamist “Jihad Jane” in a plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
Muslims have targeted Swedish artist Lars Vilks since he published a cartoon depicting Mohammad’s face on the body of a dog.
Vilks has received death threats since he drew this image of the prophet Mohammad with a dog’s body back in 2007.
The Washington Times reported:
An immigrant teen who had earned a scholarship to an elite U.S. college but became enamored of Jihadist causes was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.
Mohammad Hassan Khalid had earned a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University after just a few years in the United States, where his family was building a new life after leaving Pakistan.
As his parents and siblings worked to achieve the American dream, he retreated to his bedroom in a cramped apartment near Baltimore, where he came into contact online with Coleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” in YouTube postings.
“The upheavals of my life were distorted into a force of hate so strong that it wrapped me in its claws,” Khalid, now 21, told U.S. Judge Peterese Tucker. He said he had trouble speaking without being misunderstood.
Defense lawyers argued that Khalid was isolated and vulnerable because he was young, an immigrant and had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder diagnosed since his arrest.
Federal prosecutors say Khalid met LaRose and other extremists online when he was 15 and used his “brilliance and eloquence” to help them translate documents and try to recruit westerners. That got the attention of the FBI, which visited Khalid repeatedly when he was 15 and 16.
“The FBI tried very sincerely to try to talk him out of his criminal conduct because of his youth. He wasn’t interested,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennfier Arbittier Williams argued. “It was his persistent desire to be an online hero in the world of Jihad” that got him into trouble, she said.
Since his 2011 arrest, Khalid has given significant help to U.S. officials pursuing various al-Qaida offshoots, assistance that took years off his potential sentence of 15 years for providing material aid to terrorists.