NYC Man Gets 8 Years in Prison After Trying to Join Taliban

NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York City man convicted of trying to help the Taliban fight American forces was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison.

Delowar Mohammed Hossain was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Sidney H. Stein. Hossain was convicted during a one-week trial in October of trying to provide material support for terrorism by contributing funds, goods and services to the Taliban.

Authorities apprehended Hossain in 2019 at Kennedy Airport, interrupting his plan to travel to Afghanistan.

Prior to the trial, the judge allowed the government to take steps to protect the identities of witnesses, including a New York City police officer who corresponded with Hossain in an undercover capacity prior to his arrest.

According to court papers, Hossain in 2018 started expressing interest in joining the Taliban and sought to recruit someone to do the same, but the person turned out to be a government informant. The court papers said he told the informant, "I want to kill some kufars (non-believers) before I die."

Prosecutors said his preparations included buying equipment like walkie-talkies and trekking gear. He instructed the informant to save enough money "to buy some weapons" once they reached Afghanistan, they added.

Prosecutors had sought a 35-year prison sentence, calling Hossain in court papers a "dangerous, radicalized extremist who devoted himself to killing Americans."

Defense lawyers had requested a prison term of no more than six years, saying Hossain was a child of Bengali immigrants who turned to Islam after years of personal tumult, developing "delusions of grandeur and a self-destructive desire to escape from his stressful life."

"Before this case, Mr. Hossain had never been arrested, and there is zero indication that he was a violent person capable of harming anyone," they wrote in a pre-sentence submission.