Trial delayed for US citizen accused of funding Maldivian terrorist in 2009 Lahore bombing

The trial of a US citizen who has been charged in the United States with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist who helped carry out a deadly attack in Pakistan in 2009 has been postponed.

Reaz Qadir Khan, a 49 year-old waste water treatment plant operator for the city of Portland, US, was arrested on March 5 on charges of providing advice and funds to Maldivian national Ali Jaleel.

On May 27, 2009, Jaleel – along with two other men – stormed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Lahore and detonated a car bomb that left around 23 people dead and a further 300 injured.

Khan’s trial in the Oregon State US District Court has been postponed by the presiding judge, Judge Michael W Mosman, who stated that lawyers need more preparation time given the case’s complexity, according to US publication The Oregonian.

The head of Khan’s legal defence team, Amy Baggio, told the presiding judge that she had received 29,000 pages of government documents regarding the case, the US publication reported in late April.

The documents were mostly Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigative reports, immigration papers and other documents, according to Assistant US Attorney Ethan D Knight, lead prosecutor for the case. Additionally, another 10,000 pages of paperwork, including financial records, emails and other documents, were to be given to the defense by the government.

Once underway, lawyers expect the trial to last approximately two weeks.

Status conferences related to the trial were held in April and another is scheduled for July 8, however it remains unclear when the trial will commence.

Baggio, who was previously hired by Khan, was designated by Judge Mosman to be paid with public funds as Khan’s court-appointed attorney, given that the case meets US Criminal Justice Act standards for providing representation, The Oregonian reported.

The criminal case defense is expected to be “very costly” and Khan lacks the ability to cover the expenses, said Oregon’s federal public defender Steven Wax.

Currently, Khan is taking a two-year unpaid leave of absence from his municipal job, however he will receive 18 months of paid health benefits for himself and his family, reported the US publication.

“The City is unable and/or unwilling to accommodate the restrictions placed on the employee by the court,” an agreement sent to Portland City Council reads.

Khan will be placed back on the city’s call-back list if he is found not guilty, or the charges against him are dismissed, however if found guilty his leave of absence and health benefits would cease immediately, according to the US publication.

Khan has pleaded not guilty, however he faces a potential maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Alleged support for terrorism

Prior to the attack, US media reported that in 2006 Khan had received an email from Jaleel “goading” him about his past devotion to seek martyrdom for Allah.

“Where are the words you said with tears in your eyes that ‘we shall strive until Allah’s word is superior or until we perish’???” the email stated, according to The Oregonian.

Following the message, Khan then allegedly communicated and provided financial backing through email to Jaleel and his family, making it possible for the Maldivian to attend a training camp in Pakistan ahead of the 2009 bomb attack.

The emails cited in the indictment against Khan – sent in October and November 2008 – were said to have included a coded note from Jaleel telling Khan that he needed US$2,500 to pay for admission into a terrorist training camp, and asked Khan take care of his family and educate his children.

Less than a week after the bombing, US$750 was allegedly wired from Khan to one of Jaleel’s wives in the Maldives from an Oregon store, according to a Portland FBI press release.

“Those who provide material support to terrorists are just as responsible for the deaths and destruction that follow as those who commit the violent acts,” said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.