Monday, February 28, 2011

Self-Described "Militant Extremist" Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Visa Fraud

Sentence Enhanced Based on Statements and Conduct Indicating a Desire to Attack the U.S.

GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, sentenced Brahim Lajqi, age 51, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo residing in Silver Spring, Maryland, today to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for visa fraud. Judge Titus granted the government's requested sentence enhancement based on Lajqi conducting activities to fulfill his pledge to retaliate against the United States for its involvement in the Kosovo conflict, which Lajqi believed had led to the deaths of several family members.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.

"The evidence showed that Mr. Lajqi repeatedly and consistently made statements and took actions indicating that he planned to engage in terrorist activity," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

"As this case clearly demonstrates, visa fraud presents a vulnerability that could be exploited by dangerous criminals or even terrorists," said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore. "ICE HSI will continue to vigorously pursue those who seek to exploit and corrupt America's legal immigration system."

According to Lajqi's guilty plea, he made false statements on immigration documents. Lajqi admitted that on his application to become a permanent resident in the United States he stated that he had been granted asylum status, when in fact, he had not. Lajqi further admitted that he forged his mother's signature on a petition for an alien relative that was purportedly filed by her on his behalf.

According to court documents and testimony at today's sentencing hearing, Lajqi is a self-described extremist militant trained by Bosnian rebels, who on several occasions expressed a desire to "get even" with the United States and discussed obtaining weapons and explosives for an attack on Washington, D.C. According to court documents, Lajqi drove around Washington, D.C. on two occasions to discuss and view potential targets, including Capitol Hill, the courthouse where his immigration proceedings were being held, the White House, the Treasury building, and a Metro train stop during rush hour. Lajqi also stated that he was in the process of renewing his commercial drivers license (CDL) in South Carolina so that he could transport weapons from Canada. Lajqi actually traveled to West Virginia in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a CDL there.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and ICE-HSI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Welsh, who prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey E. Eisenberg, Chief of the National Security Section, who supervised the case.

No comments: