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Tunisian man pleads guilty in US terror case

  • Associated Press
  • June 3, 2014 - 2:10 PM

NEW YORK — A Tunisian man who was accused last year of plotting to organize a U.S.-based terrorism cell pleaded guilty on Tuesday to less serious immigration charges.

Ahmed Abassi told a federal judge in Manhattan that he lied about why he had flown to the United States when he spoke to a federal agent in 2013 and when he filled out a green card application.

"I said I was going to work in the real estate field," Abassi said. "It was not true."

Abassi faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison at sentencing on July 23, but he could be released from jail and immediately deported if the judge agrees to a defense request for time served.

Prosecutors allege that Abassi met regularly in the U.S. with an undercover FBI agent and with another Tunisian citizen who's facing charges in Toronto of conspiring with al-Qaida members in Iran in a plot to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal. They claimed Abassi wanted to remain in the United States to cultivate a network of terrorists for international attacks.

The defense accused the government of entrapment, saying the undercover agent lured Abassi to the United States by promising to put him up in a luxury apartment and to help him get a Canadian visa so he could reunite with his wife in Quebec.

Abassi told the judge that following his arrest last year, FBI agents interrogated him for seven days. He didn't give specifics.

© 2014 Star Tribune