Three Pakistani men pleaded guilty Monday to terrorism-related charges of supporting the Pakistani Taliban, according to a release from the U.S. Justice Department. At a hearing before U.S. District Judge John Bates in the District of Columbia, Irfan Ul Haq, Qasim Ali, and Zahid Yousaf pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to provide material support to the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Ul Haq, Ali, and Yousaf were arrested in Miami on March 13 and charged with one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling. The three men allegedly ran an alien smuggling operation out of Quito, Ecuador. As part of an undercover operation, federal agents directed confidential sources to ask the men to smuggle a fictitious person tied to the TTP from Pakistan into the United States. According to the DOJ press release, the defendants agreed to smuggle this person despite being fully aware of his purported affiliation with the TTP.
"These defendants sought to smuggle someone they believed to be a member of a terrorist organization from halfway around the world into the United States," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
The defendants allegedly told the confidential sources that it was "not their concern" what the men "want to do in the United States—hard labor, sweep floor, wash dishes in a hotel, or blow up. That will be up to them," the DOJ press release said.
The defendants also accepted payment from the confidential sources for the smuggling operation and obtained a false Pakistani passport for the fictitious TTP operative.
The investigation was carried out by the Homeland Security attaché office in Quito with the FBI and the Ecuadorian National Police.
The sentencing has been scheduled for December and each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
A separate case in South Florida also alleges material support to the Pakistani Taliban by an imam in one of the city's oldest mosques and his family.