By Rich Weizel
NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced a British national to 12-1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in December to running a website and distributing publications that promoted violence and raised money for Muslim militants.
Babar Ahmad, 40, had faced a maximum sentence of 25 years for the crime, which prosecutors said included recruiting fighters for the Taliban and al Qaeda in the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington.
"It is my conclusion that the defendant does not present a risk of becoming involved in future crimes, and was never involved directly with al Qaeda," Judge Janet Hall said, explaining the lighter sentence.
The sentence will include the 10 years Ahmad already has served, she said.
Ahmad's attorneys had argued ahead of sentencing that while he tried to help Muslims under attack in Bosnia and Chechnya through his publications in the 1990s, he regretted supporting the Taliban and condemned the Sept. 11 attacks.
A second man, 34-year-old Syed Talha Ahsan, who also pleaded guilty alongside Ahmad to supporting the Taliban through the publications, was due to be sentenced on Wednesday afternoon. He faces a maximum 15-year sentence.
The pair, extradited from Britain in 2012, were charged in Connecticut as authorities argued they used an Internet service provider in the state to run at least one of their websites.
The Taliban is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda.