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Pak chargesheets 5 US citizens on terror charges

January 18, 2010 17:56 IST

The Pakistani police, on Monday, submitted a chargesheet in a court against five American Muslims, who were arrested last month for alleged terror links, accusing them of conspiring against the state and plotting terrorist attacks.

The police submitted the 'challan' (chargesheet) in an anti-terrorism court in Sargodha, charging the youths under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code for criminal conspiracy against the state and plotting attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

During the hearing, the youths admitted to the court that they wanted to go to Afghanistan via Pakistan, Sargodha police chief Usman Anwar told PTI. The youths alleged that police had subjected them to torture. The court ordered authorities to conduct a medical examination of the youths and to submit a report at the next hearing on February 2.

The five Americans also told the court that they had no confidence in their lawyer Muhammad Ali Rokhari and wanted human rights activist and former Inter-Services Intelligence agency official Khalid Khwaja's help in pursuing their case. Khwaja told PTI he would consult the families of the Americans and then approach the Lahore High Court. The youths – Ramy Zamzam, 22, Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Iman Hasan Yemer, 17 and Omar Farooq, 24 – were arrested in Sargodha district on December 9. They have also been interrogated by a team of the American FBI.

Sargodha police chief Anwar said authorities decided to charge the youths under provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code after they disclosed they had plans to "wage war against US forces in Afghanistan".

The chargesheet includes records of meetings between the youths and the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah in Hyderabad and Lahore respectively. Details of e-mails and records of phone calls made by the youths to a man in Dubai and to Saifullah, an American Arab who promised to help them join the 'jehad' in Afghanistan, were also given to the court.

The youths are currently being held in the high-security zone of Sargodha jail. A joint team of officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Crime Investigation Department and Punjab Police probed the youths' alleged terror links. According to a report prepared by this team, the youths were unhappy over the US government's policies in the Muslim world, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. They posted their feelings on the popular website Youtube and also developed contacts with Saifullah, believed to an al-Qaeda operative based in Pakistan.

After arriving in Pakistan, the youths were to meet Saifullah at Mianwali on December 9 and then travel to Hangu and Kohat to meet some al-Qaeda operatives before going to Afghanistan, the report said. It also said the youths planned to target some important installations in Pakistan. The Lahore High Court has already ordered that the youths cannot be deported or handed over to the FBI or any foreign agency without its permission.

M Zulqernain in Lahore
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