Ex-Intel staffer admits trying to aid Taliban
But not to waging war on US
Ex-Intel engineer Maher 'Mike' Mofeid Hawash has pleaded guilty to one of three charges that he conspired to aid and abet the Taliban.
Hawash, 38, admitted that he travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 with the intention of fighting against the US' invasion of that country. Apparently he got as far as China but failed to get into Afghanistan because he was denied a visa to cross Pakistan. He then returned to the US.
The US Department of Justice arrested Hawash last March and was finally indicted in April after being held without charge for several weeks. He was charged on three counts: one of "conspiring to levy war against the United States", one of "conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al-Qaida" and a third of "conspiracy to contribute services to Al-Qaida and the Taliban".
Hawash pleaded guilty only to the third charge.
Trials of the remaining five defendants, all accused of similar actions, will have to take place before Hawash is sentenced, the DoJ said. Those trials could extend into 2004. Having pleaded guilty, Hawash faces a gaol term of at least seven years and possibly as many as ten.
The guilty plea agreement adds a $250,000 fine to whatever sentence Hawash is eventually given. He may also be forced to help the US government in its action against the suspects currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hawash was born in 1964 as a Jordanian but later became a naturalised US citizen. At Intel, he was lead software engineer on the company's MMX design efforts. ®