Texan gets 20-year prison term for al-Qaida links

May 24, 2012, 7:37 PM

Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas man convicted of trying to sneak out of the U.S. to give al-Qaida restricted military documents, GPS equipment and money was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison _ the maximum punishment he could receive.

Barry Walter Bujol Jr. was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine during his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge David Hittner.

Bujol was convicted in November on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.

“We do not take matters of potential national security lightly,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement. “This case and its successful resolution represents our commitment to making our communities a safer place to live.”

Before his sentence was handed down, Bujol told Hittner he never wanted to hurt anyone. He also said prosecutors were wrong in portraying him as a terrorist.

“I’m a person, not a terrorist,” he said in a brief statement, adding that he had made some mistakes.

Bujol’s attorney, Daphne Silverman, had asked for a sentence of seven years, telling Hittner that her client was not dangerous.

“He’s an incredibly strong and peaceful person,” she said.

But prosecutor Stephen McIntyre told Hittner that Bujol, in coded messages sent to people he believed were members of al-Qaida, advocated the destruction of U.S. drones and the murder of American soldiers.

“The defendant talked about his desire to live and die with the brothers (members of al-Qaida),” McIntyre said.

Hittner sentenced Bujol to 15 years for the charge related to trying to provide help to a terrorist group and five years for identity theft. The judge ordered the sentences be served consecutively.

Prosecutors said Bujol, a U.S. citizen, sought to join al-Qaida and provide it with money, two nonpublic restricted-access Army manuals related to U.S. drones and GPS equipment. He was arrested in May 2010 following a two-year investigation after he used fake identification to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship bound for the Middle East.

The 31-year-old said he never intended to harm the United States or any American citizens, and that he had wanted to leave the country because he was displeased with U.S. foreign policy, particularly drone attacks. He said he wanted to become a better Muslim.

“We are using drones to murder and attack people,” Silverman told Hittner. “It was a valid position (Bujol) was taking … to disapprove of drones. That’s what his concern was, defending people and not hurting people.”

Authorities used an undercover informant who befriended Bujol and, posing as a recruiter for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, offered to help him travel to the Middle East. The informant wasn’t a law enforcement agent.

Authorities said Bujol made three unsuccessful attempts in 2009 to travel to the Middle East.

Prosecutors also alleged Bujol exchanged emails with the U.S.-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had ties to al-Qaida.

Al-Awlaki, killed by a U.S. drone strike in September in Yemen, is also believed to have exchanged emails with Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the killing of 13 people in the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood in Texas.

Silverman said Bujol had a very brief email exchange with al-Awlaki, but that was before the cleric was known to have ties to terrorism and Bujol only sought spiritual advice. She also said the informant led Bujol astray.

According to court documents, Bujol used at least 14 email addresses to hide his activities from authorities, and he advocated attacking U.S. facilities where military weapons were manufactured.

Bujol, who lived in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, was a student at nearby Prairie View A&M University.

Tariq Ahmed, an attorney with the Muslim Civil Liberties Union, which also worked on Bujol’s case, said many Muslims in Houston were afraid to speak out on Bujol’s behalf because they didn’t want to be associated with a terror-related case.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Ex-alderman who’s part of Daley family sentenced to 4 months

CHICAGO (AP) — A grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors was sentenced to four months in prison Wednesday after being convicted of tax crimes and making false statements. Patrick Daley Thompson, 52, was accused of falsely claiming mortgage interest deductions and lying about lines of credit from the now-closed Washington Federal Bank for […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Knock-knock. Are any ivory-billed woodpeckers out there?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put off a decision about whether ivory-billed woodpeckers are extinct, announcing Wednesday that it’s adding six months to review information, including a month of public comment. “We are aware that there have been surveys or evidence collected recently,” Amy Trahan, the agency’s expert on the […]
16 hours ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies about h...
Associated Press

Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 committee testimony a television hit

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the Jan. 6 committee was a big hit with television viewers, easily reaching a larger live audience than any of the four other daytime hearings. Hutchinson’s riveting testimony about former President Donald Trump’s temper as plans to overturn the 2020 election fell apart […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Group aims to harness anger over crime to oust LA prosecutor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County’s progressive prosecutor could be tossed from office like his counterpart in San Francisco after opponents on Wednesday said they would submit more than enough signatures to qualify for an election to recall District Attorney George Gascón, who they say is soft on crime. The campaign spent about $8 […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Group aims to harness anger over crime to oust LA prosecutor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County’s progressive prosecutor could be tossed from office like his counterpart in San Francisco after opponents on Wednesday said they would submit more than enough signatures to qualify for an election to recall District Attorney George Gascón, who they say is soft on crime. The campaign spent about $8 […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

School system enters settlement in desegregation case

MADISON, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has approved an agreement to settle a long-running desegregation case with a north Alabama school system, prosecutors said Wednesday. The school system agreed to take steps to ensure equal educational opportunities for Black students, including participation in gifted programs and college prep classes, officials said in a U.S. […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Texan gets 20-year prison term for al-Qaida links