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Lashkar suspect released on bail in US
Matthew Barakat in Alexandria
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September 21, 2005 15:43 IST
Last Updated: September 21, 2005 15:57 IST

A third-grade teacher in Maryland accused of supporting a Pakistani terrorist group was freed on bond on Tuesday while he awaits trial, despite objections from prosecutors who fear he will flee the country.

Ali Asad Chandia, was indicted last week and charged with providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamic group seeking to end India's rule in the disputed Kashmir territory. The United States government designated Lashkar a terrorist organisation in December 2001.

The charges against Chandia stem from a government investigation of what prosecutors called a "Virginia Jihad network," - a group of young Muslim men who used paintball games in 2000 and 2001 as paramilitary training for holy war around the globe.

Ten people have been convicted, including the group's spiritual leader, Ali al-Timimi of Fairfax, who was sentenced earlier in 2005 to life imprisonment for soliciting treason and urging group members to fight US troops in Afghanistan.

US Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan ordered Tuesday that Chandia be freed on bond pending trial, but under electronic monitoring. Also, his mother is to put up her home as collateral.

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Prosecutors said that Chandia had training in document forgery and that, as a Pakistani citizen, he could easily obtain a new passport and flee to Pakistan. But Buchanan said Chandia has complied with court orders for more than two years - ever since he was held briefly on a material witness warrant in connection with the Virginia Jihad investigation and that he has earned the court's trust.

Prosecutors describe Chandia, a teacher at the private Muslim al-Huda school in College Park, as al-Timimi's personal assistant. They say Chandia traveled to a Lashkar camp in Lahore [Images], Pakistan, in November 2001 and later helped a senior Lashkar officer - Mohammed Ajmal Khan from England [Images] - obtain equipment for a remote-controlled aircraft, and helped him ship eight paintball guns and 50,000 paintballs to Pakistan.

Khan - who was indicted along with Chandia - has already been jailed in Britain on terrorism charges.

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