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Cabbie Who Tried To Fund Terrorism Gets 7 1/2-Year Prison Sentence

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CHICAGO (CBS)–A North Side cab driver was sentenced to 7½ years in federal prison Friday after pleading guilty to providing monetary support al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Raja Lahrasib Khan pleaded guilty on Feb. 6 to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced Khan to 90 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Zagel said a “profoundly aggravating factor” was that Khan’s offenses happened after he chose to become a U.S. citizen.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

In pleading guilty, Khan, 58, traded a 15-year prison sentence for the possibility of five to eight years in a federal prison.

Khan was born in Pakistan was working as a cab driver in Chicago when he provided hundreds of dollars to alleged terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri, whom he met in his native Pakistan, and attempted to provide additional funds after learning he was working with al Qaeda, prosecutors said.

He first met with Kashmiri in the mid-2000s and then again in 2008, the prosecutors said. By the second meeting, Khan knew or had reason to believe Kashmiri was working with al-Qaeda and leading attacks against the Indian government.

During the second meeting, Kashmiri told Khan that Osama bin Laden was alive, healthy and giving orders, the release said. Khan then gave him 20,000 Pakistani rupees (about $200-250) to support attacks against India.

On Nov. 23, 2009, Khan sent 77,917 rupees (about $930) from Chicago to Pakistan via Western Union and told a person over the phone to give Kashmiri 25,000 rupees, prosecutors said.

Khan immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and became a naturalized citizen in 1998, the release said. He was arrested in 2010 during an undercover FBI operation and officials said he never posed an imminent domestic danger.

Khan’s plea deal in February led prosecutors to recommend a sentence of half the time or less than he could have received had he taken his case to trial.

Prosecutors had recordings to substantiate their allegations.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)