Former University of Manitoba student Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, convicted by a jury last September of conspiring to kill American soldiers in a bomb plot, tried to convince a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tuesday that he was now opposed to violence.
“Violence — especially when it is inspired by religion — is foreign to everything I believe in,” he wrote in a letter read aloud by his lawyer.
But U.S. federal prosecutor Richard Tucker told the court that al Farekh, 32, a U.S. citizen born in Houston, Texas, was “unshakably committed” to violent jihad and should be sentenced to life in prison, Reuters reported.
Faced with these competing arguments, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan handed down a sentence of 45 years, saying that while al Farekh did not appear to have fully accepted responsibility, neither was he “totally devoid of humanity.”
U.S. citizen convicted in 2009 suicide attack in AfghanistanMuhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, former University of Manitoba student, charged with supporting terrorism
Following the court hearing, Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York, said in a statement that al Farekh had “turned his back on America by joining al-Qaida and trying to kill American soldiers in a bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.”
“This case demonstrates that we will do everything in our power to ensure that those who seek to harm our country and our armed forces will be brought to justice.”
David Ruhnke, Al Farekh’s lawyer, said he intended to file an appeal in a case that drew notoriety, in part, because of reports that American officials had initially debated whether to try to kill al Farekh in a drone strike, a step almost never taken against U.S. citizens.
President Barack Obama’s administration ultimately decided to try for a capture and civilian …read more
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