NEW YORK – A Florida doctor was convicted Monday of providing material support to terrorists by agreeing to treat injured Al Qaeda fighters so they could return to Iraq to battle Americans.
Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 52, was convicted in Manhattan federal court after a three-week trial that featured testimony by him and Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who posed as an Al Qaeda recruiter in a sting operation that led to four arrests.
When the verdict was read, Sabir just looked straight ahead. Later, as he was escorted from the courtroom, he waved to supporters, who said, "Stay strong."
His lawyer, Ed Wilford, said, "We are deeply disappointed in the verdict."
The charges against the Harlem-born Sabir, including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, carry a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
The verdict came after jurors heard audio tapes of a May 2005 ceremony in a Bronx apartment in which Sabir and his best friend, Tariq Shah, a martial arts expert and jazz musician, pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda and, the government alleged, Usama bin Laden.
Shah pleaded guilty just before trial to providing material support to a terrorist organization and agreed to serve 15 years in prison, though he has not yet been formally sentenced. A Brooklyn bookstore owner who pleaded guilty was sentenced to 13 years in prison. A Washington, D.C., cab driver has pleaded guilty and agreed to serve 15 years in prison.
Sabir, of Boca Raton, Fla., testified at trial that Shah never told him he was talking with an Al Qaeda recruiter. At the pledge ceremony, Soufan mispronounced Al Qaeda more than a dozen times, Sabir said. He also said he did not know "sheik Usama" meant bin Laden.