By Ellen Jean Hirst
3:21 PM EST, December 11, 2012
A Chicago man was sentenced today to nearly 10 years in prison for planning to travel to Somalia in 2010 to wage jihad for a terrorist group connected to al-Qaida.
Shaker Masri, 29, a native U.S. citizen of Syrian descent, pleaded guilty in July to attempting to provide material support to the Somali group al-Shabaab, which is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman considered Masri’s younger age, mental health and stress from his mother’s sudden death in accepting the sentence worked out between prosecutors and his lawyers – 9 years and 10 months in prison.
However, she also ordered that he be under supervised release for 20 years following his release from prison.
Masri's lead attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, had opposed the unusually lengthy supervised release, noting his client would be an old man by the time he was no longer under court supervision.
"With all due respect, 50 years old is not old," Johnson Coleman said. "You've still got a lot of time left.
But Joshua Dratel, another Masri attorney, pointed out that Masri would be nearly 60 by the time he was free of the court restrictions.
"Still not old," the judge said.
At one point during the sentencing Tuesday, Masri raised a hand and asked to speak after prosecutors had just described his jihadist ideology. After conferring with his attorneys, though, Masri chose to remain silent.
Later, when formally given the opportunity to address the judge, he responded, "No, thank you."
Even with 20 years of supervised release, Dirken said the sentence was "a reasonable resolution under difficult circumstances."