Milan Imam, 10 Others Sentenced on Terrorism Charges in Italy

An Italian judge sentenced a Milan imam and 10 others to up to 10 years in jail on Thursday in a terrorism trial involving a cell accused of recruiting militants and sending them to conflict areas in the Middle East, a prosecutor said.

The imam, Abu Imad, was given one of the lighter sentences, three years and eight months in jail, because he had left the organization in 1999, prosecutor Armando Spataro said.

"Since then he changed his ways, and we don't consider him dangerous any more," Spataro told The Associated Press by telephone.

The group continued its activities after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, sending militants to Afghanistan and Iraq, falsifying money and documents and aiding illegal immigration into Italy, Spataro said.

The defendants — who come from northern African countries — were accused of belonging to an organization that financed and provided logistical support to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat and Ansar al-Islam, radical Islamic groups linked to al-Qaida.

The imam's lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, did not answer calls to his cell phone seeking comment.