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Five young men from Northern Virginia, arrested in Pakistan in December, have pleaded not guilty to terrorism-related charges in Punjab province and will face trial before a special anti-terror court.
Prosecutors accused the men, ages 18 to 24, with using Pakistani soil to plot a terror attack against a friendly country, and with directing an individual or group to carry out terrorist activities. Both charges potentially carry life sentences, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. They also face other charges, including criminal conspiracy to commit attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities say the five men, who left Alexandria Va., in November without notifying their families, had been in touch with a Taliban recruiter and wanted to join al-Qaeda and fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Their trial could take six months or more; Judge Anwar Nazir scheduled an evidentiary hearing on March 31. A judge will decide their fate, as Pakistan does not have jury trials.
The five are: Umar Chaudhry, 24; Ramy Zanzam, 22; Ahmad A. Minni, 20; Waqar Kahn, 22; and Aman Hassan Yemer, 18. They have denied contacting extremist groups.
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