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Court Papers Indicate Lackawanna Six Cooperation

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Court papers obtained by the Associated Press find the federal government has received "substantial assistance and information" from members of Lackawanna Six. The report comes a week before two of the men face sentencing.

According to federal prosecutors, the sessions held with the Lackawanna Six were deemed "highly valuable to US terrorism investigations." The AP says the suspects were grilled about the al-Qaida leaders, training methods and other sensitive topics.

The six were arrested last year on charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization and admitted to attending an al Qaida training camp. All pleaded guilty.

Attorney Rodney Personius who represents Yasein Taher, says the defendants had to cooperate as part of their plea deals allowing federal authorities to question them.

"The government, in their papers, is simply filing the motion that each defendant cooperated as expected," Personius said.

The AP report says the suspects provided information on how al Qaida recruits are transported to training camps and indoctrinated to identify America as an enemy. But Personius says he could not comment on the information provided to the government.

Taher and Muktar al Bakri will be sentenced next week. Al Bakri's appears next Wednesday, then on Thursday Taher will appear. But Personius says he doubts the information will be made public during the sentencing.

"The government, when it filed its downward departure papers, did so at two different levels," Personius said. "One was a public filing and the second was a filing under seal, which I interpret as an indication the government did not want (the information) disclosed to the public.

"I would be surprised if at sentencing there is a lot of detailed discussion about the specific cooperation."

Personius says he expects the judge to treat each sentence individually. And he says al Bakri's sentence might not necessarily apply to his client's sentencing the next day.