Chiheb Esseghaier’s “mentor” – US backtracks on terror claim against Tunisian man

Associated Press= NEW YORK (AP) — The government revealed Tuesday that it is offering a plea deal that may result in freedom for a Tunisian man who last year was accused of plotting to build a U.S.-based terrorism cell and radicalizing a Canadian man charged in a train derailment plot.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara announced the offer in federal court in Manhattan at a pre-trial hearing for Ahmed Abassi.

The plea would be to charges of making false statements and possessing an identification document with intent to defraud the United States. Abassi has pleaded not guilty. The false statements charge carries a maximum of five years in prison while the other charge, a misdemeanor, carries a potential sentence of up to one year in prison.

Ferrara said federal sentencing guidelines would call for a sentence of up to six months in prison if the government declines to ask for a terrorism enhancement at sentencing. If it did, the guidelines would call for six years in prison, he said.