American citizen Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh was found guilty Friday of helping al-Qaida plan a car attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
Jurors found Farekh guilty of supporting a foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to murder Americans and using a weapon of mass destruction, Reuters reports.
“Today, an American al-Qaeda member was brought to justice in a U.S. courtroom,” said Bridget Rohde, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Two vehicles full of bombs hit Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan Jan. 19, 2009, and the ensuing explosion killed one Afghan and injured several others. But the larger bombs failed to detonate because the second car crashed as a result of the explosion from the first car, leaving Americans totally unscathed. Farekh’s fingerprints were found on the bomb that never exploded.
Prosecutors stated that Farekh began watching al-Qaida propaganda videos and was partly radicalized by sermons from Anwar al-Awlaki, who the CIA killed in 2011. As such, he plotted with two other students at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, to join the terrorist organization and flew to Pakistan in 2007, serving in al-Qaida’s external operations unit until 2014.
All of these charges together mean that Farekh, who is originally from Houston, is staring down life in prison when it comes time for his sentencing Jan. 11.
Interestingly, Farekh almost didn’t have the opportunity to face the possibility of life in prison, as U.S. officials, specifically officials in the CIA, were pushing to authorize a drone strike against him, but ultimately the Obama administration decided against the plan in favor of capture. It worked. Farekh was captured in Pakistan in 2014, owing to U.S. intelligence, and sent back stateside for trial after intense questioning about his activities.
Farekh’s lawyer is planning an appeal of the conviction.
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