ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Ali Asad Chandia, the College Park man arrested Thursday on federal charges of providing material assistance to a terrorist organization, was granted bail Tuesday.
In a surprise decision, Judge Theresa Buchanan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that Chandia be conditionally released to his wife, Patricia.
While out on bail, Chandia will have to wear an electronic GPS monitoring device that will track his movements, Buchanan ruled. He will be allowed to travel from his home to his job teaching third grade at a private school, meetings with his attorney and to Friday prayers at a nearby mosque.
Chandia is a permanent resident of the United States and a citizen of Pakistan. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two children, said his attorney Marvin Miller. His mother and other relatives also live in the area.
Chandia appeared in court wearing a forest green jumpsuit with “PRISONER” on the back in bold white letters. The full-bearded man with neat, short hair sat silently while Miller argued for his release.
Earlier in the day, Miller guessed correctly that lawyers for the government would say that Chandia is likely to flee the country and should not be released.
“They’re going to say he’s a flight risk because he’s not a white Christian,” Miller said. “They’re going to try to make it serious, but it’s really ridiculous.”
Lawyers for the government argued that Chandia has both the ability to leave the country and connections with people who can help him to leave.
Chandia is charged with providing assistance to Lashkar-e-Taiba, also known as the Army of the Righteous, which, according to the U.S. State Department, is one of the “three largest and best-trained groups” fighting against India in the Kashmir region. The State Department has designated it a foreign terrorist organization.
Chandia is the 11th suspect to be arrested as part of the “Virginia Jihad” investigations, which have already resulted in 10 convictions. Members of the Virginia Jihad network have been convicted of purchasing and using paintball guns to train for armed combat.
Among other charges, the government claims that Chandia participated in the purchase of eight paintball guns and 50,000 paintballs for use in training.
Chandia was detained as a witness in the trials of other network members until July of 2003.
Miller successfully argued that Chandia has not violated any conditions of his 2003 release and has not shown any evidence of trying to leave the country, in spite of knowing that the government had evidence against him.
It was expected that Chandia would be released Wednesday, said Miller.
If Chandia violates the conditions of his release, his mother, Sarwat Chandia, will lose her Germantown home to the court. The home was purchased in Jan. 2003 for $410,000.