PHILADELPHIA (WJZ) — A teenager turns from a quiet suburban Baltimore life to helping terrorists online. Now he’ll spend several years in a federal prison.
Mike Hellgren has more on the punishment a judge just handed down.
The judge gave Mohammad Khalid five years–a sentence his lawyers praised as lenient. It includes credit for time served. WJZ traces his frightening path into the terrorist world.
Mohammad Hassan Khalid is the youngest person ever prosecuted for terrorism in the United States. From quiet, suburban Howard County, the FBI says the honor student linked to a network of terrorists online starting when he was just 15 years old.
Prosecutors say he translated radical videos and transferred money and passports to terrorists abroad. For that, a judge sentenced him to five years in federal prison. He could be deported to his family’s native Pakistan once he’s released.
He wept in court.
“He was crying. He was shaking the whole sentencing; he was shaking the entire time. I don’t know how much he understands,” said Jeffrey Lindy, Khalid’s lead attorney.
Khalid’s indoctrination began with Colleen LaRose, a housewife from suburban Philadelphia prolific on YouTube, who went by the name “Jihad Jane.” Even after authorities tied Khalid to her and conducted several raids, they say he still secretly connected with radicals online—all while attending Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City.
Khalid continued to excel in school. His teachers praised his work, but all that time, he was living a double life.
Khalid earned a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins, but he never went. Instead, he was arrested and eventually cooperated with authorities, which led to a more lenient sentence than the 15-year maximum.
“It’s really hard to gauge those who are just involved in rhetoric and those that are actually going to take action. And that’s a big jump and a big difference,” said Rick Nelson, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Federal prosecutors say this case shows the new faces of terror, living the American Dream in the suburbs while plotting violence abroad.
“He didn’t have a ticket. He didn’t have a flight. He didn’t have anything. He’s a kid. He was in high school,” said Lindy.
Khalid said in court he wants to stay in the United States with his family. The judge ordered he have limited Internet access once he is eventually released.
Khalid’s associate,”Jihad Jane,” was sentenced to 10 years in prison back in January. She plotted to kill a cartoonist because he drew an unflattering picture of the prophet Muhammad.
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