paintball is bad
St. Louisan accused of terror training gets plea bargain
By KAREN BRANCH-BRIOSO
WASHINGTON - Two men - St. Louis native Ismail Royer and the son of former Yemeni diplomat in Washington - pleaded guilty Friday to weapons and explosives charges in the investigation of an alleged jihad network in Virginia.
The pleas came 17 days before the men faced trial on far more serious charges, including allegations that they were part of a conspiracy that trained with the intent to battle U.S. forces abroad. The government dropped those charges against the two in exchange for cooperating in the prosecution of other men associated with the group.
"Our success in the war on terrorism depends on our ability to gain the cooperation of those who have information about the global terrorist network," Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday. "Today's pleas accomplish that goal and provide tough sentences for those who would join with and support our terrorist enemies."
Royer, 30, pleaded guilty of discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and carrying an explosive while committing a felony. He faces at least 20 years in prison. The other man, Ibrahim al-Hamdi, 26, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm during a crime of violence and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. Al-Hamdi, whose father once was the second-in-command at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, faces at least 15 years in prison.
Royer was born in St. Louis as Randall Todd Royer. He converted to Islam as a teenager in Manchester. Royer acknowledged that he helped five of 10 men indicted with him in June to get into a training camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant group in Pakistan that has been warring Indian forces over the disputed region of Kashmir.
The government dropped the charges against him that alleged the mens' ultimate goal in training with Lashkar-e-Taiba was to eventually fight with al-Qaida in Afghanistan against U.S. forces. Royer always maintained that he never planned to fight Americans.
Royer's father, Ramon Royer of Ballwin, said his son weighed a guilty plea to lesser charges against the severity of the charges he faced at trial.
"It's a trade-off between that less than 20 years or, if he went to trial, he had a chance to go to jail for the rest of his life. What he had to put in balance is four kids and a wife - and whether he'd ever see them again," the elder Royer said.
With Royer and Al-Hamdi's pleas, six of the 11 men indicted in the case have pleaded guilty. The rest still face trial. The group played paintball in the Virginia countryside. Prosecutors accused them of practicing military techniques.
death to suicide bombers!