Muhammed Abid Afridi, who pleaded guilty in March 2004 to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to distribute heroin and hashish, was sentenced on Monday in the California city of San Diego.

James Lorenz, the US district judge, sentenced Afridi to 57 months behind bars, followed by five years of supervised release, for taking part in the conspiracy along with two other men.

Co-conspirators Ilyas Ali and Syed Mustajab Shah, who pleaded guilty to the same charges, are scheduled to be sentenced in the next few weeks.

The trio of conspirators travelled from the Pakistani city of Karachi to Hong Kong on September 15, 2002 to meet with US undercover officers to negotiate for the sale of large quantities of drugs, the indictment showed.

Drugs for missiles?

The next day, the defendants agreed that they could offset the purchase price of five tonnes of hashish and 600kg of heroin against the cost of four Stinger shoulder-launched missiles, according to prosecutors.

On September 18, 2002, at a hotel in Hong Kong, the men told the undercover officers they would be able to resell the missiles to the Taliban, who had been swept out of power in Afghanistan, or al-Qaeda, according to the complaint.

Shah, Afridi and Ali were arrested in Hong Kong on September 20, 2002 by local law enforcement authorities at the request of the US government.

They were indicted by a federal grand jury on October 30, 2002, and extradited to the US the same year.

The three men had initially denied the charges when they first appeared in court in San Diego.