Terrorist suspected of stabbing Roanoke County in 2016 gets an additional two years in prison | Crime News

Five months before he used a kitchen knife in 2016 to attack a couple in their Roanoke County apartment, shouting “God is great” in Arabic, Wasil Farooqui took a mysterious trip to Turkey.

The sentence will be added to the 16-year prison sentence the 26-year-old is currently serving in state prison for allegedly randomly stabbing the couple as they entered their home in southwest Roanoke County.

Although Rezai Karim and his fiancée Taramati Harold were seriously injured in the August 2016 attack, they fought back and overpowered their attacker, who then fled and was arrested shortly after.

At the time, the FBI was investigating the international travels of Farooqui, who in March of that year boarded a flight at Dulles International Airport en route to Gaziantep, Turkey.

Gaziantep was considered a ‘hotspot’ for individuals planning to travel to neighboring Syria to join a terrorist organization, and federal authorities were examining Farooqui’s ‘possible support for ISIS’, the deputy US attorney wrote. Zach Lee in court documents.

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Among their reasons for suspicion was a small notebook that Farooqui carried that contained his handwritten notes describing the women of paradise awarded to Islamic fighters in death.

But in the end, federal authorities only charged Farooqui with lying to FBI agents about his driver’s license, which he did not have when he returned to the United States.

Terrorist organizations often order their new members to destroy any documents that might identify them, and Lee wrote that the government wanted to know what happened to an ID Farooqui had in his possession when he boarded the plane.

Defense attorney Seth Weston said he would have disputed any allegations that Farooqui was a budding terrorist and attributed his bizarre actions to serious mental illness.

At the time of the incident in Roanoke County, the case attracted national media attention, largely because Farooqui is a Muslim and the son of Pakistani immigrants, and the “Allahu akbar” phase he has screamed while stabbing its victims has been attributed to Muslim extremists as they carry out attacks.

After arriving in Turkey, Farooqui said he never left the airport and returned the next day at the urging of his parents.

Under an earlier plea deal, Farooqui accepted responsibility for lying to an FBI agent, a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison when committed in connection with terrorism.

The agreement eliminated the terrorism element of the charge and set a range of two to three years in prison for the sentencing judge.

Lee asked for a three-year sentence. But after hearing appsychiatrist to testify on Friday about Farooqui’s mental issues, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Dillon set a two-year term.

“The United States had a multitude of options as to what it could charge, possibly including a charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization,” Weston wrote, seeking the minimum sentence under the law. plea agreement.

The reduced charge was appropriate, he argued, given Farooqui’s lifelong struggle with mental illness.

“Unfortunately,” Weston wrote, “as the record in this case shows, he will sometimes win and sometimes lose this battle.”