Batley Carr jihadi Aswat jailed in USA

CONVICTED terror plotter Haroon Aswat could apply to serve the rest of his jail term in the UK.

Aswat, 41, of Batley Carr, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the USA last Friday.

He admitted in March to two terror offences related to the setting-up of an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregan.

Aswat could be out in six years, having already spent nearly 11 years behind bars in the UK and USA.

New York District Judge Katherine B Forrest said she would look favourably on a request from Britain for him to serve his sentence here.

Aswat’s 20-year term was the maximum tarriff for planning and supporting terrorist activities.

Before sentencing, Aswat said he has changed from the man who conspired with three other convicted terrorists, including the infamous Abu Hamza.

He said: “I’d like to start by apologising to the government and the court for breaking the laws of your country.”

Dressed in a navy T-shirt and chinos, his long hair plaited into corn rows, he added: “I’ve learnt that crime does not pay.”

Aswat, a paranoid schizophrenic, thanked the staff at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire for helping him.

He said: “I’ve chosen patience over reactivity, forgiveness over emnity, peace over violence ... I hope to lead a peaceful, crime-free life.”

Aswat claimed he had been a spiritual associate of terrorists, but had not intended to carry out attacks himself.

He said: “Initially, anger drove me to near insanity and depression. I’ve always been totally against violence.”

But Shane Stansbury, prosecuting, said: “To paint this man as a pacifist is a complete distortion of the truth.

“If you’re not a man of violence, you don’t go to one of the most notorious terrorist training camps on the planet.”

This was a reference to the Al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, which Aswat attended.

He met radical preacher Abu Hamza through the Finsbury Park Mosque in London in the 1990s and spent three years as his assistant.

Aswat did chores, drove him around and helped hook-handed Hamza with his everyday life. Under Hamza’s influence he was inspired to travel the world meeting with terrorists. These figures included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the September 11 2001 mastermind who is held in Guantanamo Bay.

In 1999 Aswat went to the USA for an unsuccessful mission to start a jihadi training camp at a ranch in Bly, Oregon.

He was to provide religious training at the camp, which prosecutors said was set up to support al-Qaeda.

Co-conspirator Ouassama Kassir had CDs with instructions on how to make bombs and poisons.

He also showed men how to use weapons in a bid to create a band of rebel fighters who would go to Afghanistan for Jihad.

Judge Forrest said in sentencing Aswat: “It was not simply that you went to Oregon as someone who tried to provide religious instruction.

“You were part of a group, with Hamza and Kassir, that was not intent on peaceful discussion.”

Aswat’s lawyer, Peter Quijano, said afterwards he would ask for his client to be allowed to complete his sentence in the UK.

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