Texan gets 20-year prison term for al-Qaida links
HOUSTON - A Texas man convicted of trying to sneak out of the U.S. to give al-Qaida restricted military documents, GPS equipment and money was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison - the maximum punishment he could receive.
Barry Walter Bujol Jr. was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine during his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
Bujol was convicted in November on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.
"We do not take matters of potential national security lightly," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement. "This case and its successful resolution represents our commitment to making our communities a safer place to live."
Before his sentence was handed down, Bujol told Hittner he never wanted to hurt anyone. He also said prosecutors were wrong in portraying him as a terrorist.
"I'm a person, not a terrorist," he said in a brief statement, adding that he had made some mistakes.
Bujol's attorney, Daphne Silverman, had asked for a sentence of seven years, telling Hittner that her client was not dangerous.
"He's an incredibly strong and peaceful person," she said.
But prosecutor Stephen McIntyre told Hittner that Bujol, in coded messages sent to people he believed were members of al-Qaida, advocated the destruction of U.S. drones and the murder of American soldiers. (...)