Second defendant takes stand in paintball terror trial

Shameful Charges:

I am fully in support of hanging traitors. The government of the United States, however, had better be damned sure of itself before it charges a former Marine with anti-American conspiracies.

A former Marine who traveled to a militant Islamic camp in Pakistan in 2001 testified Wednesday that he came home after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks because his country was under attack.

Seifullah Champman, 31, of Alexandria, one of three men on trial in federal court for an alleged conspiracy to aid the Taliban and fight U.S. troops, took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.
Acquaintances of Chapman who testified for the government during the three-week trial have said they also attended the Lashkar camp at various times in 2000 and 2001 and considered the camp a training ground for holy war around the globe. Some witnesses have said they traveled to Lashkar after the Sept. 11 attacks with the specific goal of training to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops.

Chapman, though, testified that he viewed the Lashkar camp as a recreation opportunity, to hike through some of the world's tallest mountains and enjoy the scenery.

He compared the Pakistani mountains to U.S. mountain ranges, saying "over here the colors are browns and greens. Over there it's blues and grays. It's a once in a lifetime thing."

He acknowledged that he spent several days training to use weapons and taking target practice, but said he asked to transfer to a different part of the camp where they engaged in strenuous hikes.

While other witnesses testified that they saw blatant anti-American posters and writings at the Lashkar camp, Chapman said he saw none of that and that he had been unaware of Lashkar's anti-American leanings.

On cross-examination, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg expressed disbelief that Chapman had traveled across the world to attend the Lashkar camp with such a limited understanding of the organization. For instance, Chapman told Kromberg he never visited Lashkar's Web site, which depicted a dagger piercing the American flag.

Chapman, who was raised a Catholic but converted to Islam while serving as a corporal in the Marine Corps, was at the Lashkar camp on Sept. 11, 2001, when he heard radio reports of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

His reaction upon hearing the news was that it was "time to come home. The people who were running the camp, I told them I'm leaving."

He said the Lashkar officials understood his reaction and provided a guide who escorted him down the mountain, and another Lashkar member helped him arrange an expedited flight to the United States.

He said he wanted to return to America because of "fear for my family, and my country was under attack."

Asked if he ever intended to use his Lashkar training in holy war against India or the United States, Chapman said, "Never."

Prosecutors do not dispute that Chapman bore no hostile intentions against the United States, but they argue he illegally provided material support to Lashkar, a terrorist group.
Now, there are lots of Marine and former Marine readers here. Put yourself in the situation: it's before 9/11. There has never been an Islamist terrorist attack on American soil. You're out of the Corps, have developed the taste for adventure, and you get a chance to go hiking with one of the old mujahedeen groups that the CIA used to back in the good old days of the Cold War. The camp has beautiful scenery, and the chance to bust a few caps out of some recovered Soviet firearms. Sound good to you? Yeah, me too.

The government admits openly that they don't believe this Marine had anything but patriotic intentions toward the USA. He's just an adventure tourist. They want to prosecute him for having ties to this terrorist group, but the government itself has had ties to it for two decades and more.

This man is a sworn servant of his country, the same as you and I. He showed his patriotism: when America was attacked, he came home right away to serve in her defense. The state should be ashamed for how it treats him. Semper Fidelis ought to work both ways.

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