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Pakistani Charged in US for Helping al-Qaida Member - 2003-08-08

Federal prosecutors in New York have charged a Pakistani man with helping a member of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Uzair Paracha in late March. He has been detained in secret since then as a material witness in the federal investigation of al-Qaida. Now, the government has formally charged him with conspiring to provide material support and resources to the terrorist group.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Paracha met in Pakistan earlier this year with an al-Qaida operative and agreed to help him obtain travel and immigration documents to enter the United States and gain legal immigrant status. They say a search of Mr. Paracha's belongings turned up a drivers license and bank card in the other man's name.

Prosecutors say the al-Qaida associate, who is not identified in the court documents, did not enter the United States.

In a statement announcing the charges, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the case demonstrates what lengths al-Qaida will go to to enlist support in the United States.

Mr. Paracha's lawyer says his client came to the United States six weeks before his arrest to raise money for a real estate venture in Pakistan.

If convicted, Mr. Paracha could face up to 15 years in jail and a fine of $250,000.