In 2004, Mohammed Junaid Babar was arrested for helping set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan and logistical support. He pled guilty and cooperated with law enforcement agencies. Acting as a witness in indictments of ten more people in the US, UK and Canada, he was finally sentenced in December 2010 to time served (a mere 4 years 8 months), 10 years supervised probation and a $500 fine; he could have been sentenced up to 70 years. Junaid Babar, who has expressed remorse for his prior actions, was actually released on bail some 2 years ago in 2008.
There are many unanswered questions around this case as most of the court documents are sealed.
Judge Marrero mentioned that Babar was cooperating with law enforcement before his 2004 arrest. Was Babar a Donnie Brasco, working undercover for law enforcement, to catch terrorists?
Alternatively, if reports about Operation Crevice and Hassan Butt by Shiv Malik and Jon Gilbert have any credibility, Babar was looking for a way out, while avoiding spending the rest of his life in jail for his al-Qaeda activities. Given his incarceration for almost 5 years it is more likely that this was a Frank Lucas style deal or a David-Headley-style-informant-operation (1) that actually worked.
Are some of the 10 people that were indicted because of Babar’s testimony in the same boat as Niazi in the Monteilh/FBI fiasco in California, or were they all genuinely involved in terrorism? At least two of the accused have had all charges against them dropped.
Assuming that Babar was really a terrorist and not acting in an undercover capacity, does cooperating with law enforcement count as an expression of de-radicalization or is it merely a self-preservation tactic? Can a man who helped set up a training camp for al-Qaeda be de-radicalized because of fear of a 70 year sentence?
The questions swirling around Babar’s conduct and sentencing have been dealt with by the courts, and it seems they will remain unanswered for the rest. Even his lawyer had not seen all the documents and notes from the prosecution side related to his case as Babar pled guilty and there was no discovery needed!
(1) In the David Headley case, he was a paid informant who actually got radicalized during his sting activities, and was involved in the Mumbai bombing. Even when reports of his radicalization were coming in, the law enforcement community gave him free rein because they assumed that it was part of his cover.