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Pakistan lays out terrorism charges against five Americans

SARGODHA, Pakistan — Prosecutors seeking to indict five Americans on terrorism charges submitted their case to a Pakistani judge Tuesday, accusing the men of waging war against Pakistan and plotting to attack the country.

All young Muslims from the Washington, D.C., area, the five were arrested in December in Punjab province not long after reaching Pakistan. They were reported missing by their families in November after one left behind a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

The men could be indicted on as many as seven charges at their next hearing on March 10, lawyer Hamid Malik told the Associated Press. The judge ordered the defense to review the prosecution report presented in the Sargodha town court and to prepare a rebuttal.

Pakistani police have publicly made several accusations against the young men, claiming the suspects contacted Pakistani-based jihadi groups. They accused the five of using the social networking site Facebook and the video-sharing site YouTube while they were in the United States to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan.

But their lawyers say they were heading to Afghanistan and had no plans to stage attacks inside Pakistan.

During past court hearings, the men have claimed they were tortured by Pakistani police and FBI agents. Pakistan and the United States have denied those allegations.

The United States has pressed an often reluctant Pakistan to crack down on militants in its territory, many of whom are believed to have been involved in attacks on American and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan. At the same time, several recent cases have highlighted incidences of foreigners signing up to join the insurgents on both sides of the border.

Other developments

• Pakistan's army said Tuesday it has wrapped up military operations in a former Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold in northwestern Pakistan that it declared free of militants a year ago only to see violence continue. The second declaration of victory in the Bajur tribal area on the Afghan border showed the difficulty of pacifying the country's volatile northwest, even with the deployment of thousands of troops.

• The United States will deliver 1,000 sophisticated laser-guided bomb kits this month that would let the government strike insurgent targets with more precision. The arms sale suggests that U.S. officials are trying to deepen America's relationship with Pakistan.

Pakistan lays out terrorism charges against five Americans 03/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:49pm]
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