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Albanian pleads guilty in terror case just 4 years after gaining US residency

Arrested in New York before flying to Turkey en route to Pakistan, the Albanian man had told his contact in a Pakistani terrorist group that he wanted to 'marry with the girls in paradise.'

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An Albanian man who was granted permanent residency in the US four years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to providing material support to a listed Islamic terror group operating in Pakistan.

Agron Hasbajrami was arrested in September as he prepared to fly from New York City on a one-way ticket to Turkey for planned travel through Iran to Pakistan.

Mr. Hasbajrami sent $1,000 to the Pakistan-based group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and expressed his willingness to fight and, if necessary, die in the group’s avowed “holy war” against US forces in the region, according to court documents.

US District Judge John Gleeson accepted the guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn. Hasbajrami faces up to 15 years in prison and has agreed to be deported after serving any prison sentence.

The case highlights how federal counter-terror agents are using material support statutes to identify potential militant Muslims in the US before they are able to travel overseas and take up arms against American soldiers.

Charging suspected militant Muslims for supporting designated terror groups overseas is an innovation that stems from the Bush administration’s war on terror. Federal agents and prosecutors have used the law to try to identify a suspect’s propensity to engage in criminal acts by exposing his expressed desire to help radical Islamic causes. The material support statute makes it explicitly illegal to give any assistance or help to a specially-designated terror group.  

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