NEW YORK – A Pakistani man held for four months in the government's probe of Al Qaeda (search) was charged Friday with conspiring to provide material support and resources to the terrorist organization.
Uzair Paracha, 23, has been held as a material witness since he was arrested in New York in late March.
Prosecutors said in a criminal complaint that he agreed to help an Al Qaeda associate obtain documents that would let him enter the United States and help him obtain legal immigration status.
They said Paracha met with a man believed to be an Al Qaeda associate in Pakistan earlier this year.
The man asked him to contact U.S. immigration authorities and pose as the associate to get a travel document that would permit the associate to re-enter and possibly remain in the United States, prosecutors said.
The Al Qaeda associate, however, has remained overseas, prosecutors said.
Paracha was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Friday.
Prosecutors said Paracha told the FBI in March that he possessed several items of identification belonging to the Al Qaeda associate.
A search of his belongings revealed that he had a Maryland driver's license and a bank ATM card in the associate's name, prosecutors said.
Paracha's lawyer, Anthony Ricco, has said in recent days that Paracha was innocent.
He was arrested about six weeks after he came to the United States to raise money for a real estate venture in Pakistan, Ricco said.
If convicted, Paracha could face up to 15 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
Paracha's mother, Farhat Paracha, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from her home in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi (search) on Thursday that the United States is holding her son illegally.