American Man Accused of Aiding Al Qaeda Extradited to U.S.

An American student arrested last year in London for allegedly providing Al Qaeda fighters with equipment to attack American soldiers was in federal custody Saturday.

Syed Hashmi, 27, arrived in the U.S. late Friday, said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia. Hashmi is the first terror suspect extradited to the United States by British authorities.

The suspect, known to his associates as "Fahad," was indicted in May 2006 for allegedly supplying the unspecified equipment for Al Qaeda "to fight against United States forces in Afghanistan."

He was also charged with agreeing to help others provide military gear for Al Qaeda to use in Pakistan, the indictment said. The conspiracy to support the terrorist group behind the World Trade Center attack operated between January 2004 and May 2006, the indictment said.

"Syed Hashmi aided the enemy by providing military gear to Al Qaeda," said Mark Mershon, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office.

The Pakistani native, who is an American citizen, had lived in Britain for three years before his June 6, 2006, arrest as he boarded a flight to Pakistan at Heathrow Airport. He only spoke to confirm his name and date of birth at a subsequent London court hearing where he refused consent for extradition.

In March, the British High Court ruled against Hashmi in his legal battle, rejecting his claim that the U.S. arrest warrants were flawed.

Hashmi is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska.

The former Queens resident faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges in the three-count indictment, including the top count of conspiring to contribute funds, goods or services to the terrorist group.

Hashmi was reportedly associated with another Queens man, Mohammed Junaid Babar, who pleaded guilty in August 2004 to smuggling night-vision goggles, money and military supplies to an Al Qaeda official establishing a "jihad training camp" in Pakistan. The Hashmi indictment referred to the prior arrest of an unidentified co-conspirator.

Babar, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, acknowledged meeting with the terrorist official near the Afghanistan border — in the same area where the gear provided by Hashmi was brought, according to the pending indictment.