An American citizen added to the U.S. government’s “kill list” in 2013 has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with nine separate crimes for his part in allegedly trying to kill U.S. soldiers.
The litany of crimes that Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh has been charged with include conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens, use of explosives, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to bomb a government facility. Farekh’s charges stem from his alleged involvement in a double suicide attack in Afghanistan’s Khost province that killed 17 people in January, 2014.
The 2009 attack involved a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), also known as a car bomb which exploded outside a U.S. base. Farekh allegedly “assisted in the preparation of the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,” according to his indictment.
Also known as Abdullah al-Shami and Shaif al-Shami, Farekh was a career terrorist born in Texas and raised in Jordan. He began his jihadist life by watching videos of radical Islamic clerics such as his fellow American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. In 2007, he abruptly left the University of Manitoba in Canada, where he was attending school, and traveled to Pakistan in order to fight U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He eventually worked his way into al-Qaeda’s Lashkar al-Zil (or Shadow Army) and made a connection to the Taliban’s Haqqani network.
Farekh eventually drew the attention of U.S. intelligence, and was added to the Pentagon’s “kill list” in 2013. However, Farekh’s U.S. citizenship obviously complicated matters when it came to the decision of whether or not to authorize a plan to kill him.
Al-Awlaki was also a U.S. citizen. President Obama’s decision to authorize a drone strike killing al-Awlaki drew significant criticism and questions as to the legality of such a drastic decision.
Like many of his ilk, Farekh took harbor in the lawless region of North Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (or FATA). He would eventually be captured during a Pakistani military raid in the region in early 2015, after which he was transferred to U.S. custody. He is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York.
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