An 18-year-old US national Wednesday pleaded guilty to the charges supporting and recruiting fighters for Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
Michael Kyle Sewell, from Fort Worth, Texas, was arrested in February, has admitted to encouraging an individual, identified in court documents only as coconspirator 1, to join the LeT. He now faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to USD 250,000. The sentencing is scheduled for August 12.
According to the guilty plea, Sewell provided the coconspirator, who he spoke to on social media, with contact information for an individual he believed could facilitate the coconspirator’s travel to Pakistan to join the LeT.
Unbeknownst to Sewell and the coconspirator, the facilitator was an undercover FBI agent.
Sewell and the co-conspirator discussed what the co-conspirator should say to the undercover agent who posed as the facilitator, in order to gain the facilitator’s trust and be permitted to join the LeT.
He also contacted the facilitator to vouch for the co-conspirator’s authenticity and told both of them that he would kill the co-conspirator if he turned out to be a spy.
The co-conspirator then contacted the facilitator and made arrangements to travel to Pakistan. In February, Sewell was charged by the FBI with using social media to recruit people on behalf of the LeT and send them to Pakistan for terrorist training.
“We stay on constant alert for radicals plotting attacks targeting citizens of the United States, here or abroad,” said US Attorney Nealy Cox said in a release.
“Countering terrorist threats is our highest priority, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring justice to those who attempt to provide material support to foreign terror organizations.”
It is not clear if Sewell is currently in custody, Fox4 News reported.
The LeT is a UN and US-designated global terrorist organisation and has carried out several terrorist attacks inside India, including the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 that took the lives of 166 people, including several Americans.
In 2013, a US court sentenced David Coleman Headley, an American of Pakistani origin to 35 years in jail for his role in the Mumbai attack.