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A Pakistani man who gave money to the man behind the failed Times Square bombing last May has been sentenced to the 11 months he’s already served and released to federal officials for deportation. At an April 12 sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper of Boston sentenced Aftab Ali, who is also known as Aftab Ali Khan, for two other crimes not connected to the money he gave to the thwarted bomber, Faisal Shahzad. Based on his plea agreement with the government, Ali pleaded guilty to immigration document fraud and unlicensed transmission of money. In addition to the 11 months Ali has already been in federal custody, Casper sentenced him to three years of supervised release and a special assessment of $200. The U.S. Marshals Service seized Ali in May 2010. About a month later, he was transferred to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Last October, Shahzad was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the bombing attempt. Ali gave Shahzad approximately $5,000, according to the government’s lawyer, William Weinreb, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit of the District of Massachusetts. But Ali didn’t know what Shahzad intended to do with the money, according to lawyers on both sides of the case. In February 2010, Ali gave Shahzad the money, which he obtained through an intermediary through a so-called “hawala” transaction, which meant that Ali’s family in Pakistan would receive the same amount of money. The 28-year-old defendant appeared in court in dark jeans, a burgundy T-shirt, loose-fitting gray sweatshirt and white sneakers. During the hearing, Casper asked the soft-spoken Ali to speak louder. He answered some of the judge’s questions directly but in other cases turned to his Urdu interpreter first. Ali waived indictment by a grand jury and pleaded guilty under a plea deal with the government. He also agreed not to appeal if the judge accepted the sentencing deal. Ali faced up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment for the immigration fraud. For the unlawful money charge, he faced up to five years in prison, three years of supervised, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. According to the government, Ali arrived in the United States in August 2009 through a visa that allowed him to marry his then-fiancée. He began working at a gas station without a work permit. Ali married a different woman, and in November 2009 he falsified immigration documents by omitting his U.S. work history. Weinreb said Ali also participated in an illegal $550 multiparty transaction to a lawyer in Florida. Ali “did not know who Shahzad was and what he was going to use the money for,” said his lawyer, Miriam Conrad, a Boston federal public defender. The intermediary who arranged the transaction told Ali that Shahzad needed the money for medical treatment. According to Weinreb, the sentencing guidelines for Ali’s specific crime called for six to 12 months in prison, given his lack of criminal history. “The defendant is not charged with being a terrorist or having knowledge of what Faisal [Shahzad] was going to do with the money,” Weinreb said. “Had he been involved in any way, the government’s recommendation would have been quite different.” Casper then asked Weinreb why the government was not seeking a fine. Weinreb replied that Ali was working at a gas station making minimum wage before spending nearly a year in federal custody without earning any money: “It’s fair to say that he’s unable to afford a fine.”. Conrad explained that Ali engaged in the money transfer to get money back to his father in Pakistan, who was ill with a heart condition. After imposing the sentence, Casper called it “reasonable under the circumstances.” “It’s appropriate for the counts the government has brought,” said Casper. “Although reference has been made to the failed Times Square bombing, I accept that Ali had no knowledge with regard to the funds transferred to [Shahzad].” Casper remanded Ali to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service so that he could be transferred to ICE for deportation. Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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