MINA, March 04, 2012
Another Kosovo Albanian Charged with Terrorism in USA
A New York City man whose parents are Kosovo Albanians was sentenced to 27 years in prison Friday for traveling to the Middle East in a failed bid to join al-Qaida and avenge abuse of Muslims by killing American troops.
"I wish I had not gone down that path," Betim Kaziu told U.S. District Judge John Gleason before hearing the sentence in federal court in Brooklyn. "I completely regret what I did in that phase of my life."
But Gleason said it was first time he'd hear the defendant express remorse – and that it wasn't convincing.
"You grew up in Brooklyn and you decided to murder your own country's soldiers," Gleason said. "There's still an element of defiance in you. ... You're still way too proud of becoming a jihadist."
The government had sought a life term, arguing that Kaziu could resume his quest to commit terrorism if given anything less.
A jury found the 24-year-old Kaziu guilty last year of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and other charges last year at a trial that featured the testimony of a would-be terrorist and childhood friend of the defendant who became a government cooperator.
Unlike the cases of Najibullah Zazi, mastermind of a foiled suicide attack on New York City subways, or Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber, Kaziu's case received little attention, in part because the plot didn't get far. But his story had many of the same themes of homegrown terrorism.
Kaziu and star witness Sulejah Hadzovic were two U.S.-born sons of Islamic immigrants from Kosovo and Bosnia who met in sixth grade. By 2008, "they pursued a growing interest in radical Islam" and began searching the Internet for opportunities to take up arms against U.S. troops.