Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Texas man sentenced to 45 years for role in al Qaeda attack

Texas man sentenced to 45 years for role in al Qaeda attack

Before Mr. Cogan imposed the sentence, Mr. Ruhnke read a letter written by Al Farekh, who did not speak himself.

A federal judge sentenced 32-year-old Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh to 45 years in prison for engaging in terrorist conduct and conspiring to carry out terrorist acts.

Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 32, travelled overseas, joined al Qaeda and conspired to kill Americans, including through an attack using explosive devices on a USA military installation in Afghanistan in 2009, said Assistant Attorney General for the National Security John C Demers.

"Farekh, a citizen of this country, turned his back on America by joining al-Qaeda and trying to kill American soldiers in a bomb attack on a US military base in Afghanistan", said US Attorney Richard Donoghue.

Farekh's case drew extra attention because of reports that American officials had initially debated whether to try to kill him in a drone strike, a step nearly never taken against United States citizens.

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President Donald Trump's administration has committed to fighting foreign terrorist organizations and touted, in particular, its success in fighting ISIS.

Farekh was detained in Pakistan in 2015, transferred to US custody, questioned and then secretly flown to NY to face terrorism charges.

The Justice Department said Al Farekh and others received training from al Qaeda in Pakistan, where Al Farekh became a leader in the group. In March 2007, Farekh and two fellow students from the University of Manitoba in Winnepeg, Canada, traveled to Pakistan intending to fight American troops, they said. Al Farekh did not directly address the crimes of which he was found guilty, but asked the judge to consider that young men could be misled into violence. In the wake of Awlaki's death, the administration imposed new rules that, among other things, directed that the Pentagon, rather than the Central Intelligence Agency, should carry out lethal strikes against Americans overseas suspected of terrorism. On January 19, 2009, two explosives-laden vehicles approached the fence line of FOB Chapman. The second truck hit the blast crater left by the first truck and failed to explode. The first truck blew up, wounding several bystanders, including a USA serviceman and a pregnant Afghan woman.

Forensic technicians recovered 18 latent fingerprints that were determined to be a match to Farekh from adhesive packing tape used to bind together the explosive materials of the second, undetonated VBIED. Al Farekh's lawyer, David Ruhnke, said at the court hearing that Al Farekh would be appealing his conviction.

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