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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Pakistani National Faces Charges in New York

Aired August 8, 2003 - 19:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: First, there was another reminder of the September 11 attacks today here in New York. A Pakistani national was in a New York courtroom facing charges of providing help and resources to al Qaeda.
CNN's Maria Hinojosa joins us with more on the suspect and the government's case against him.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, well, it was right here in the middle of New York's busy garment district that a young man from Pakistan was allegedly working on behalf of al Qaeda in the office building right behind me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Uzair Paracha, college graduate, legal immigrant from Pakistan who came to New York in February, his lawyers say he's a businessman who set up in Manhattan garment district selling real estate to fellow Pakistanis returning back home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a young person who has never been in trouble with his life. He's never been belonged to a religious organization or even a political organization, when he's been a student. After all, he's 23. He has an MBA. He's a very bright, but I say very naive young man.

HINOJOSA: The U.S. says Paracha is anything but naive. He was in federal court Friday, charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda.

Prosecutors say he helped an al Qaeda operative based in Pakistan obtain travel documents to return to the United States, for what purpose prosecutors didn't say. In Pakistan, Paracha's father worked in the southern city of Karachi, shipping clothing made Pakistan to wholesalers for U.S. companies such as Kmart. Last month, Pakistani police detained Paracha's father. But where he's being held and what, if anything, he's been charged with remains unknown.

Paracha's mother, interviewed by CNN in Karachi, said the arrests of her husband and her son were unfair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband is not involved in any terrorist organization. I can tell you that. And I'm 100 percent sure of it. Neither is my son.

HINOJOSA: The U.S. government, though, says Paracha not only knew he was working for an al Qaeda operative, but also expected al Qaeda to invest $200,000 in his business ventures in return for his efforts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't why this is happening. I think it's the paranoia. I think it's just, America's is scared. So they're just suspecting everybody.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HINOJOSA: Uzair Paracha is expected back in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, we'll follow the case. Maria Hinojosa, thanks very much.

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