A Dawsonville man was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Monday for conspiring to support terror groups and making casing videos of possible U.S. targets.
A former Dawson County High School student, Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, was arrested and charged with material support of terrorism in 2006.
A month later his friend and co-defendent Ehsanul Islam Sadequee of Roswell was also charged.
U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr., sentenced both men on Monday.
Sadequee received a 17 year prison term. Both sentences are followed by 30 years of supervised release.
“With their words and their actions, these defendants supported the wrongheaded, but very dangerous, idea that armed violence aimed at American interests will force our government and our people to change our policies. That is terrorism, and it will not succeed,” said Sally Quillian Yates, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Yates said the hope is that the sentences “will make our citizens and our soldiers safer around the world as the message is sent that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who would ally themselves with terrorists.”
Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan in 1984, came to the United States in the mid-1990s.
He moved to Dawsonville in 2003 after his father got a job teaching computer science at North Georgia College & State University. He was attending Georgia Tech and living in an off-campus apartment when he was arrested in 2006.
According to court testimony, Ahmed and Sadequee drove in Ahmed’s truck to Washington, where they shot poor-quality “casing” videos of locations that included the World Bank Building and Pentagon.
Ahmed told FBI interviewers the videos were meant to earn the respect and trust of extremists abroad. The videos were later found on the computers of two terror suspects arrested in London, and the camera that shot them was eventually traced back to the Dawsonville home of Ahmed’s parents.
Ahmed’s family had little reaction in June when he was convicted.
His father, Syed Riaz Ahmed, said in June after the conviction, “We were expecting it ... that’s what the system’s supposed to do.”
The senior Ahmed said his son never harmed anyone.
“You think something and you’re guilty of doing something in America,” he said.
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said the FBI is charged with preventing terrorist attacks before they occur.
“The radicalization of U.S. citizens by jihadist recruiters abroad is a very real and growing concern that the FBI and the U.S. government as a whole must deal with,” Jones said. “Individuals engaged in such activities as these two individuals cannot successfully argue that such activities are constitutionally protected.”
DCN Regional Staff Stephen Gurr contributed to this report.