A New Cross-based web designer is accused of working as an al-Qaida propagandist, and is facing a life sentence in the US after being extradited to New York.
Vietnamese citizen, Minh Quang Pham, 32, has been charged with the possession of an AK-47 rifle, receiving military styled training, and providing support to the Yemen based branch of the terrorist group, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Pham is accused of helping to produce an English al-Qaida magazine, Inspire. Allegedly, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers found instructions how to make bombs in the magazine, in an article called “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”.
Preet Bharara, Manhattan US attorney said Pham’s support for the terrorist organization began after he “surreptitiously travelled from the UK to Yemen in late 2010”. It has been reported that he told his wife he was travelling to Ireland.
“During the half year he spent in Yemen, Pham allegedly vowed to wage jihad, swore bayat (loyalty), and provided material support to high-level AQAP members, almost always brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle,” Bharara said.
Pham has been reported to have converted to Islam after moving to the UK as a child and has lived in New Cross since 2005, where he set up his own company, designing leaflets and websites.
Under the alias “Amin”, Pham allegedly swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for jihad. The American prosecution claims he cooperated with two, now dead, al-Qaida members who were not named.
The prosecution alleged a cooperative witness spoke to these two unnamed men and “understood from them that Pham was providing valuable assistance […] in connection with the production and editing of Inspire magazine”.
Pham was detained in July 2011 at Heathrow airport when returning to the UK, and was “found to be in possession of a live round of .762 caliber armor-piercing ammunition, which is consistent with ammunition that is used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle”.
He is also alleged to have been in possession of computer files that were identical to those of a US Government witness.
Under US law, the charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If Pham is convicted on the five counts in relation to AQAP that he is charged, he will face a maximum sentence of life in prison, with a minimum sentence of 40 years in prison.