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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 02:07 GMT 03:07 UK
Muslim US cleric jailed for life
Ali al-Timimi (left). File photo
Washington-based Ali al-Timimi (left) has US citizenship
A US Islamic scholar has been sentenced to life in jail for urging Muslims to join the Taleban in Afghanistan and fight US troops after the 9/11 attacks.

Ali al-Timimi was convicted by a court in Alexandria, Virginia, in April.

Presiding US District Judge Leonie Brinkema said the evidence supported the mandatory life sentence.

The 41-year-old cleric said he was innocent. His lawyers earlier described the case as an attack on free speech and religious freedom.

Timimi was accused of telling young Muslims at a mosque that believers must take part in a holy war, or jihad, in support of the Taleban in Afghanistan, just days after the 11 September attacks.
I will not admit guilt nor seek the court's mercy. I do this simply because I am innocent
Ali al-Timimi

US government prosecutors based their case on a 16 September 2001 meeting between the scholar and his followers near Washington.

They said the group formed a "Virginia jihad network" training for holy war around the globe.

Defence lawyers argued their client only told young Muslims that they might be better off leaving the country because it would be difficult to practice their faith in the US.

"I will not admit guilt nor seek the court's mercy. I do this simply because I am innocent," the cleric said before his sentencing.



SEE ALSO:
US jurors convict Islamic scholar
26 Apr 05 |  Americas
US 'Taleban' sentenced in Seattle
13 Feb 04 |  Americas


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