After a long legal battle, Babar Ahmad, a computer expert from Tooting, south London, finally admitted to charges of conspiracy and providing the Taliban with supporting material. During the court proceedings in New Haven, Connecticut, Ahmad accepted a plea agreement in which he waived his right of appeal, and subsequently received a lenient sentence of 150 months rather than the 25-year term sought by prosecuting lawyers.
Having served nearly 10 years in UK and US jails, Babar Ahmad's defence team believe he may well serve no more than a further seven-and-a-half months in prison. The court ruled that his co-accused, Tooting-born Syed Talha Ahsan, who was imprisoned alongside Ahmad, should receive a 'time already served' sentence, and has consequently been freed.
Accused of being the genius behind the former Azzam.com, the first English jihadist web presence, Ahmad used his online resource to report on mujahedeen campaigns in Bosnia and Chechnya, and also featured documents detailing Osama bin Laden's demand for a Muslim jihad against the West.
When sentencing Ahmad, the judge acknowledged his exemplary good character, and accepted his activities were non-operational, and that he had shown remorse for his earlier incitement of jihad. Likewise, she accepted his experience of Muslim suffering during the Bosnian war had been a key reason for his later commitment to jihad. Therefore, his sentence took into account both the seriousness of his offence and these mitigating circumstances.
The Free Babar Ahmad Facebook page welcomed the news, saying this was “the end of a very long journey", adding: "It has been a very difficult and tiresome struggle but at last, we can see light at the end of the tunnel."