US court sentences Pakistani doctor to 18 years in prison for bid to join Daesh

Muhammad Masood, a 31-year-old licensed Pakistani doctor. — Sherburne County Sheriff/File

A Pakistani doctor employed in the United States (US) was handed 18 years in prison, after an American court convicted him for trying to provide material support to a terrorist organisation, Daesh.

Muhammad Masood, a 31-year-old licensed doctor, living in Rochester, Minnesota on H-1B — a work visa — sought to join Daesh to fight in Syria and expressed interest in carrying out attacks on US soil.

“A Rochester man was sentenced today to 216 months in prison, equivalent to 18 years, followed by five years of supervised release for attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization,” a press release issued by the US Department of Justice stated.

As per the court documents, Masood was formerly employed as a research coordinator at a medical clinic.

The official statement showed Masood’s activity from January 2020 to March 2020, revealing his intention to become a part of the militant outfit.

“Between January 2020 and March 2020, Masood used an encrypted messaging application to facilitate his travel overseas to join a terrorist organization,” the statement added.

It further stated that the Pakistani man made multiple statements about his desire to join Daesh and also pledged his allegiance to the designated terrorist organisation and its leader.

“Masood also expressed his desire to conduct ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attacks in the United States.”

On February 21, 2020, he bought a plane ticket from Chicago, Illinois, to Amman, Jordan, with plans to travel to Syria from there.

However, his travel plans changed on March 16, 2020, owing to the border closure by Jordan under the coronavirus travel restrictions.

He then decided to fly from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, where he would meet a person who he believed would help him with travel via a cargo ship to deliver him to the territory claimed by Daesh.

On March 19, 2020, Masood traveled from Rochester to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to board a flight bound for Los Angeles, California.

However, he was eventually arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) upon arrival at the airport.

Masood pleaded guilty last year on August 16 to attempting to provide material support to Daesh.

Senior Judge Paul A Magnuson sentenced him to 18 years in prison on Friday, after the completion of investigations by the FBI’s JTTF.