HOUSTON – A Houston man pleaded guilty after he and a Pakistani living illegally in the United States were charged with conspiring to join the Taliban and fight against U.S. forces, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Donald J. DeGabrielle Jr. said a four-count indictment charges Kobie Diallo Williams, also known as Abdul Kabir, and Adnan Babar Mirza with conspiracy. Mirza, a 29-year-old Pakistani who overstayed a student visa, also is charged with three counts of violating federal firearms laws.
Williams, 33, a U.S. citizen living in Houston and attending the University of Houston-Downtown, surrendered Tuesday to members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the conspiracy charge. Mirza was already in custody on immigration violations.
"While these subjects did not operate at a high level of sophistication in comparison with the 9-11 hijackers, the expressed goal was to aid the Taliban by training to carry out jihad against coalition troops in the Middle East," said Roderick Beverly, the head of the FBI's local office.
Federal prosecutors also allege that Williams had provided approximately $350 to Taliban members or their families.
DeGabrielle said Williams was not charged with treason because he had not traveled outside the United States or taken any other overt actions to justify such a charge. He believed the money he had donated was going to families of the Taliban. He said neither man had any real contact with terrorist groups. He would not confirm whether the two had met with undercover agents posing as members of the Taliban.
DeGabrielle and Beverly said the investigation was nearly two years old and began with a referral from the U.S. Border Patrol, although they would not discuss further details.
Williams' attorney, Alamdar S. Hamdani, said Williams chose not to fight the charges.
"He made a grave mistake," said Hamdani. "And he has come forward to own up to that."
Williams and Mirza are being held without bond. Williams faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Mirza's maximum sentence would be 35 years in prison.
The indictment says Williams and Mirza viewed U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq as "invaders" and agreed in April 2005 that they should travel to the Middle East to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The two then underwent at least eight sessions of firearms and/or reconnaissance training around Harris County, which surrounds Houston, and other area counties.