US sentences Pakistani over Taliban smuggling plot

A Pakistani citizen was sentenced to four years and two months in federal prison Thursday for conspiring to smuggle a member of the Pakistani Taliban into the United States.

Pakistani man sentenced for conspiring to smuggle member of Taliban into U.S.

A Pakistani citizen was sentenced to four years and two months in federal prison Thursday for conspiring to smuggle a member of the Pakistani Taliban into the United States.

A Pakistani citizen was sentenced to four years and two months in federal prison Thursday for conspiring to smuggle a member of the Pakistani Taliban into the United States.

Irfan Ul Haq, 37, and two other Pakistani citizens pleaded guilty in September in federal court in the District to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The two other men, Qasim Ali, 32, and Zahid Yousaf, 43, each were sentenced last month to at least three years in prison. As part of their plea agreements, the men will be returned to Pakistan when their sentences are finished.

Federal prosecutors said the men were living in Ecuador when they became targets of a sting operation by federal agents. Starting in January 2011, the agents directed confidential informants to ask the three Pakistanis to help them smuggle a member of the Pakistani Taliban into the United States. The Pakistani Taliban was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in September 2010.

Ul Haq told the informants that he didn’t care what the Pakistani wanted “to do in the United States — hard labor, sweep floors, wash dishes in a hotel or blow up,” according to federal prosecutors.

As part of their service, some of the smugglers planned to accompany the Pakistani Taliban member on a circuitous journey from his home country to the United States — with stops in Dubai, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, according to federal prosecutors. One of the smugglers told an informant that the normal rate for such a smuggling operation was between $50,000 and $60,000, prosecutors said.

Before being arrested in Miami on March 13, federal prosecutors said, the three smugglers had accepted some payment from the confidential informants and had obtained a fake Pakistani passport for the fictitious man with terrorist ties.