A Federal judge in New York has denied bail to a Pakistani accused of aiding an al-Qaida operative. Judge Andrew Peck rejected a $2.5 million bail package offered by relatives of Uzair Paracha living in the metropolitan New York area, saying the defendant might help terrorists gain entrance to the United States if he were to be set free on bail.
Mr. Paracha was arrested by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York in March and detained in secret as a material witness for four months. Last week, the government formally charged the 23-year-old Pakistani with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a terrorist group.
Prosecutors allege that Mr. Paracha agreed in a meeting in Pakistan earlier this year to obtain travel and immigration documents for an al-Qaida member. A search of Mr. Paracha's belongings after his arrest turned up documents in the other man's name.
Prosecutors say they expect to broaden the charges against Mr. Paracha. His lawyer, Anthony Ricco, says his client is accused of meeting with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the alleged planners of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Mr. Ricco says he may seek access to Mr. Mohammed and other al-Qaida members in U.S. custody to prepare Mr. Paracha's defense. He will not confirm reports that Mr. Mohammed is part of the government's case against his client. But he says that Mr. Mohammed is one of the unidentified men referred to in the criminal complaint against his client, that the government made Friday.
The complaint alleges that Mr. Paracha came to the United States on the instructions of people he knew were supporters of Osama bin Laden and, at one point, posed as another person in order to secure immigration documents. Defense lawyer Anthony Ricco said earlier his client will plead not guilty when the case goes to trial. "We are going to take the position that Uzair Paracha was manipulated into this situation. It is pretty clear, I think to everyone involved that there was a great deal of manipulation involved here and it will be a real tough question as to whether or not he had a real intent to commit this crime as charged," he said.
A preliminary hearing is set for September 9.