A doctor from Pakistan who wished to join the Islamic State group and fight on the frontline was sentenced to 18 years in a US prison on Friday, the New York Times reported.
Muhammad Masood, 31, of Rochester, Minnesota pleaded guilty last year in US District Court in St Paul to attempting to provide material support to IS.
Masood has been residing in the US on an H-1B visa since 2018 and held a medical license in Pakistan. He worked at a research clinic in Rochester and was arrested in March 2020 at Minneapolis-St Paul Airport before he could board a flight to Los Angeles.
The prosecutor said that Masood planned to board a cargo ship from Los Angeles to travel to the Middle East and join the IS.
Masood’s lawyer, Jordan Kushner called the sentence “extremely harsh” given his client’s history of mental illness.
In court, Kushner alluded to a report from a psychiatrist who concluded that Masood’s actions should be understood “not as an act of devotion to violent extremism and the aims of ISIS, but as a consequence of his mental illness and multiple stressors.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Masood initially planned to reach Syria by air from Chicago to Jordan in March 2020, but the plan failed when Jordan closed its borders due Covid-19 pandemic.
He then got a ticket for a flight from Minnesota to Los Angeles, the authorities said. On March 19, 2020, he was arrested by federal agents at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.