By Garrett Mitchell , The Republic | azcentral.com
An 18-year-old Tucson-area man accused of planning jihad-style attacks in Maricopa and Pima counties will serve eight years in prison and will remain on lifetime probation after his incarceration, a judge ruled Friday.
Mahin Atif Khan was sentenced by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink on Friday after pleading guilty to three felony charges in October.
He received five years on a conspiracy to commit terrorism charge, three years for conspiracy for misconduct involving weapons and lifetime probation on a charge of inciting or inducing terrorism.
Khan’s was the first terrorism conspiracy case to be prosecuted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
After the sentencing, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told reporters he was satisfied with the result, adding, “We are very happy that we were working together with federal authorities with the FBI in keeping our community safe. Everyone in Arizona deserves to feel safe, and anybody who threatens our safety deserves to be imprisoned.”
Khan was described by family and close friends as a childlike and naive man, in contrast with the description of the dangerous, scheming youth described by prosecutors. A chained Khan, dressed in gray-striped jail garb, with tightly cropped black hair and glasses, remained silent throughout the sentencing.
Before the judge ruled, he heard a brief statement from an FBI agent who had corresponded online with Khan over a period of three years, followed by tearful testimonials from family members and friends requesting that Fink be lenient.
FBI agent Benajmin Trentlage testified that despite three years’ worth of correspondence with Khan and his family, Khan continued to send emails to undercover FBI agents expressing an interest in extremist activity. Trentlage said that there was an opportunity for intervention early on, when it was revealed to Khan he was breaking the law, but he did not take advantage of it.
“That was an extremely rare chance,” Trentlage said. “… Despite our best measures, Mr. Khan continued to revert to this interest in extremism and violence. Had he chosen to take advantage of golden opportunity that was given to him, we wouldn’t be here.”