A Wilkinsburg felon who was photographed and videotaped holding a rifle in 2010 and whom FBI agents characterized as a Taliban sympathizer pleaded guilty Tuesday to a gun charge.
Khalifa Ali Al-Akili, 35, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm on July 4, 2010.
"I didn't know that I was breaking the law when I went to the gun range," he told U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak. "My wife, she is not a citizen of this country, and I have a daughter, [so] that it's real rough to accept the fact that I have to do 10 years of my life in prison for something that didn't hurt nobody."
Formerly known as James Marvin Thomas Jr., Al-Akili has a criminal past including drug-dealing convictions. If the court discounts most of his prior convictions, he would face a maximum of 10 years in prison. But if the court considers all of those prior cases to be relevant, he could face a minimum of 15 years after his March 21 sentencing hearing.
At a preliminary hearing March 16, an FBI agent said that the bureau found "jihadist" literature in Al-Akili's apartment, and that they are aware of pro-Taliban statements he made during a past stay in prison and to FBI informants.