The prosecution of a man investigators believe was a budding homegrown terrorist began Monday in Atlanta. Syed Harris Ahmed is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists
In opening arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney said Ahmed met with members of an accused Canadian terrorist cell in 2005. The group discussed possible targets for a U.S. terrorist attack, including military bases and oil storage facilities and refineries. Ahmed later shot crude surveillance video of possible targets in Washington, D.C.
It was his interaction with members of the "Toronto 18" that led to U.S. law enforcement's interest in Ahmed. He gave a lengthy confession to FBI agents, but his attorney is dismissing Ahmed's statements and actions as "childish" and unlikely to result in any real harm.
Ahmed didn't have to carry out an attack to create harm, McBurney said. Ahmed's communication with other plotters advanced their cause.
"This case is one step removed from the bomb throwers, the shooters. ... It's about people who've entered into an agreement to support terrorists."
Ahmed opted to waive a jury trial. His fate is in the hands of U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. An alleged co-conspirator, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, is scheduled to stand trial later this summer.