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First Lackawanna Man Gets Maximum Sentence

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The hardest part may yet be ahead for Mukhtar al Bakri. The twenty three year-old Lackawanna man was sentenced Wednesday to ten years for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

During the proceeding in Buffalo's Federal Court, al Bakri fidgeted a bit. He looked down, then up again, then rested his hand at the side of his mouth.

His attorney John Molloy describes him as a "shy, immature young man."

While about a dozen family members looked tearfully on, al Bakri listened to Judge William Skretny detail his sentence - ten years and a $2000 fine.

Molloy said the outcome might have been different with a trial.

"As an attorney, it would have been interesting to litigate this particular case because of what we, the Defense Bar, thinks is the uncertainty of that particular statute," said Molloy.

Despite the ongoing challenges to the constitutionality of the law, al Bakri and the other convicted Lackawanna will go to jail.

In al Bakri's case, Skretny said ten years is a "just punishment" for violating, not only the law, but the "very tenets of a free society."

At one point, al Bakri showed what appeared to be a nervous smile. Skretny bristled, then quickly scolded the former High school athlete about the seriousness of what was happening.

Then came al Bakri's only statement, "I don't think there is anything fun about being thrown in jail - that's not fun."

Local Muslim Community leader Mohammed Albanna said it took this moment for the reality to set in.

"Maybe now they will all realize, once they hear the Judge sentence them, because even though they pleaded and they knew what they might get, they were still hopeful the Judge might be lenient," said Albanna. "But I think once they hear what happened to Mr. al Bakri, they all going to realize, you fix your bed, you lay in it."

According to the Buffalo U.S. Attorney's office, al Bakri and the others will receive credit for the time they have already served.

For al Bakri that means another eight years and eight months in a federal prison.

His friend, Yasein Taher will be sentenced Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PM, and the others over the next two weeks.