Prosecutors: Third-Grade Maryland Teacher Supported Pakistani Terror Group

A third-grade teacher was found guilty Tuesday of lending aid to a Pakistani terrorist organization, becoming the 11th conviction in what the government called a "Virginia jihad network."

Ali Asad Chandia, 29, a teacher at an Islamic school in College Park, Md., was convicted on three of four counts, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to do the same.

He faces a maximum of 45 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 18.

The government had accused Chandia of traveling to Pakistan in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks and receiving military training from a group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting for Muslim control over the disputed Kashmir region on the India-Pakistan border. The U.S. government designated Lashkar a foreign terrorist organization in December 2001.

Upon Chandia's return to the U.S. in January 2002, the government argued, he served as a chauffeur to a top Lashkar official, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, and helped him ship military training equipment from the United States to Pakistan, including a remote-controlled aircraft and 50,000 paintballs.

Chandia's lawyer argued that his client went to Pakistan to help plan his brother's wedding and that Chandia didn't know about Khan's terrorist links.

Khan was convicted in Britain of supporting Lashkar and sentenced this year to nine years in prison.

Chandia was a disciple of Ali al-Timimi, a U.S.-born Islamic scholar in Fairfax who the government said enjoyed "rock star status" among his followers.

Many of al-Timimi's followers played paintball games in the woods near Fredericksburg in 2000 and 2001 as a means of military training, but it is agreed that Chandia did not participate in paintball.

Chandia attended a post-Sept. 11 meeting in which al-Timimi warned his followers that the attacks were a harbinger of an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and nonbelievers and that they were obligated to defend the Taliban against a looming U.S. invasion, according to court testimony.

Four people who attended that meeting, including Chandia, left for Pakistan in the following weeks and months.

Al-Timimi is serving a life sentence for soliciting treason and urging group members to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Chandia's lawyer, Marvin Miller, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

The government has obtained 11 convictions in its prosecution of the Virginia jihad group. Two others were acquitted.