Imam in Georgia makes history as first person to be convicted on terrorist offenses - lead Rome mosque
February 28, 2007
By Kenneth Rowson
Shorbagi was not only the leader of the Rome Mosque; he was a leader in the Rome community. Several people, including one Rome city official, testified to his character in federal court Tuesday morning. His family was in the courtroom for sentencing. United States District Judge Harold Murphy sentenced Shorbagi to seven-years and eight-months in prison.
Unites States Attorney David Nahmias said, "The people who financially support terrorism are not the people who are personally building bombs or setting off bombs." Nahmias added, "But, they're the people who make that kind of activity possible."
Shorbagi plead guilty to providing financial support to Hamas through donations to an organization called The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Nahmias says Shorbagi was the Georgia representative for the group, and hosted high-level Hamas officials at his Rome Mosque. In 1997, Hamas was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
Michael Trost, Shorbagi's attorney, says his client was aware the money could end up funding violence.
"He understood that once the money left his hands, he had very little control and knew that that was a possibility. Whether that was his intent is another matter," Trost said.
Despite the support from family and community, it was Shorbagi's cooperation with the Government that helped him get a reduced sentence from the maximum 15-years for his crime.
"He testified in a trial in Chicago in which there were some terrorism charges brought against several individuals," his attorney said.
Both the U.S. Attorney and his defense attorney said Shorbagi could reduce his sentence further if he continues to cooperate with the Government.
Mohamed Shorbagi is a citizen of the Palestine territories. He has been in the United States legally for 22 years. In court, he said his family is all United States citizens.