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Homeland Security

voanews.com

US Charges 11 Alleged Terrorists
VOA News
28 Jun 2003, 15:07 UTC

Federal authorities in the United States have charged 11 men with conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Kashmir against India.

A 41-count indictment was made public Friday, after authorities arrested six of the suspects during raids in the Washington, D.C. area and in the state of Pennsylvania. Two other men charged in the plot were taken into custody earlier this month, and three more suspects are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

Nine of the 11 people indicted are U.S. citizens, and officials say three spent time in the U.S. military. The other two are from Pakistan and Yemen.

Prosecutors charge them with stockpiling weapons and conspiring to wage "jihad", Muslim holy war, against a friendly nation.

The indictment also alleges the suspects practiced military tactics in rural parts of the state of Virginia and used a popular game called "paintball" to simulate actual combat. Paintball is a game in which participants use pressurized guns to shoot capsules of paint at each other.

Prosecutors also say several of the suspects traveled to Pakistan for further training with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri militant group on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba for a suicide attack on the Parliament building in New Delhi in December of 2001, and for a long series of other attacks against government and civilian targets in the Indian part of Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba denies targeting civilians. The group is one of about a dozen fighting for Kashmir's separation from India.

The indictment does not link the men to plans for any specific attack overseas, or does it give evidence the men were plotting attacks in the United States.

Defense lawyers deny the long list of charges. They say the defendants were accused because they are Muslims.

The suspects are also accused of conspiring to help militants abroad carry out attacks in Chechnya, the Philippines and other countries.

Prosecutors partly base the charges on an unnamed co-conspirator, a man who was not named in the indictment, who gave the government information about the others.



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