Terrorist Sentencing Sets Stage For Media Onslaught

Terrorist Sentencing Sets Stage For Media Onslaught

Alexandria is gearing up for national media attention Aug. 1, when Mohammad Rauf is sentenced in Alexandria Federal Court.

Rauf, also known as Lyman Faris, 34, of Columbus, Ohio, pled guilty to providing material support and resources to Al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack on May 1.

He admitted to casing a New York City bridge and researching and providing information to Al Qaeda about other U.S. targets and the resources that would be needed to destroy them.

Faris admitted traveling from Pakistan to Afghanistan in late 2000, where he met Osama Bin Laden at a training camp. During a meeting at one of these camps, Faris was asked about ultra light planes and was told that Al Qaeda hoped to obtain an “escape” plane. He admitted obtaining the information via the Internet and giving it to his friend who was Bin Laden’s “right foot.”

Between April 2002, and March 2003, Faris admitted sending coded messages to his friend in Pakistan about his unsuccessful attempts to obtain “necessary” equipment.

FARIS FACES up to 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines for his crimes. He avoided a long trial by pleading guilty. His sentencing on Aug. 1, is likely to draw many national, international and local journalists to Alexandria.

“It’s hard to say how many people will come to the city for this sentencing,” said Barbara Gordon, the city’s public information officer. “There certainly is a lot of media interest so we have to plan for the maximum.”

That means having a media staging area in the vacant lot at Carlyle, across from the courthouse.

“All of the media satellite and micro wave trucks will park here and all of the interviews will be conducted from here,” Gordon said. “Everyone who enters this area will be thoroughly screened by the Alexandria Police Department so citizens need have no fear in this regard.”

Some of the trucks will arrive on Thursday, July 31. On Aug. 1, some streets may be closed to through traffic. “We will only do this for part of the day and all Carlyle residents will be permitted to enter and leave, as will those who have business in the area,” Gordon said. “It will simply not be open to through traffic.”

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. and is slated to last only 30 minutes.

“Remember, this is a schedule,” Gordon said. “Things could change.”

Gordon wants to assure citizens that they will be inconvenienced as little as possible. “We will keep the disruption to our citizens’ lives at a minimum,” she said.