NEW YORK (AP) _ A Florida doctor was convicted Monday of providing material support to terrorists by agreeing to treat injured al-Qaida fighters so they could return to Iraq to battle Americans.
Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 52, was convicted in federal court in Manhattan after a three-week trial that featured testimony by him and Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who posed as an al-Qaida recruiter in a sting operation that led to four arrests.
When the verdict was read, Sabir looked straight ahead. Later, as he was escorted from the courtroom, he waved to supporters, who said, ``Stay strong.''
His lawyer, Ed Wilford, said, ``We are deeply disappointed in the verdict.''
The charges against the New York-born Sabir, including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, carry a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Sept. 12.
The verdict came after jurors heard audio tapes of a May 2005 ceremony in a Bronx apartment in which Sabir and his best friend, Tariq Shah, a martial arts expert and jazz musician, pledged loyalty to al-Qaida and, the government alleged, Osama bin Laden.
Shah pleaded guilty just before trial to providing material support to a terrorist organization and agreed to serve 15 years in prison, though he has not been formally sentenced.
A Brooklyn bookstore owner who pleaded guilty after the sting operation was sentenced to 13 years in prison. A Washington, D.C., cab driver has pleaded guilty and agreed to serve 15 years in prison.
Sabir, of Boca Raton, Fla., testified at trial that Shah never told him he was talking with an al-Qaida recruiter. At the pledge ceremony, Soufan mispronounced al-Qaida more than a dozen times, Sabir said. He also said he did not know ``sheik Osama'' meant bin Laden.
Juror Jeffrey Ellsworth said he decided Sabir was guilty after he played Sabir in a jury room reenactment of Sabir's pledging ceremony.
He said Sabir's guilt became clear to him when he realized the doctor said ``al-Qaida'' near the end of the transcript after others said it more than a dozen times.