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Last of 6  Yemeni-Americans Linked  to al-Qaida Get Prison Sentence - 2003-12-18

The last of six Yemeni-Americans who trained at an al Qaida terrorist camp in Afghanistan just months before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States has been sentenced to a nine-and-one half year prison term Wednesday in Buffalo, New York.

Sahim Alwan says he regrets his actions and is ready to take full responsibility for them. His sentencing completes the government's prosecution of the so-called "Lackawanna Six," young men of Yemeni heritage who live in a working class suburb of the city of Buffalo in northern New York state.

The six were arrested shortly after the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks as a result of an anonymous letter sent to federal authorities. They were charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization. As part of a plea bargain earlier this year, the six were offered reduced prison terms in return for cooperating with the goverment. They could have received sentences of up to 15 years. Instead, the maximum sentence any of the convicted men received is 10 years.

The men say they were trained to use explosives and weapons at the Al Farooq camp in Afghanistan. Alwan says he met twice with Osama bin Laden.

Lawyers for the six men say their clients were the victims of high-pressure recruiting tactics. Prosecutors say there is no evidence that the six men planned or participated in any terrorist acts.

Prosecutors say they are continuing to investigate suspects who recruited the men and financed their trip. A five million dollar reward has been offered for a seventh suspect, who remains at large, allegedly in Yemen.