Al-Qaida suspect confesses to terror charge in federal court, to receive 15 years in prison

Ali Charaf Damache, pictured in 2010, will be sentenced to 15 years in prison in October.

(Niall Carson/PA Wire)

A suspected Al-Qaeda member, the first foreign-born terror suspect to be brought to the U.S. for trial under the Trump administration, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit material support and resources to terrorists in the federal district court in Philadelphia Monday.

Ali Charaf Damache, 53, Algeria-born Irish citizen, was originally indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit material support to terrorists and one count of attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism in 2011. He was extradited to the US. of Spain in July of last year.

Prosecutors say Damache, who went by the online handle “Theblackflag,” sought to recruit bright colour, women and others who do not fit the traditional terrorist profile to wage jihad. His targets included Colleen LaRose, the Pennsylvania woman who called himself ” Jihad Jane,” online; Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a single mother from Colorado; and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who was at that time a high school honors student from Maryland. They were all eventually arrested.

Colleen LaRose, aka ‘Jihad Jane’

(AP/Tom Green County Jail/File)

Damache was also accused of involvement in a terrorist cell that wanted to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilk, who depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a dog. The plot never materialized, authorities said.

“Damache knowingly conspired with others to wage a violent jihad abroad, actively supporting the very ideals that allow terrorism to thrive worldwide,” said William Sweeney, deputy director of the FBI office in New York. “As long as there are people who undertake to perform these intolerable acts, the FBI will resolutely continue to address the fight against terrorism as our number one priority.”

Damache married Paulin-Ramirez the day she traveled to Ireland to meet him in 2009. Paulin-Ramirez eventually helped the FBI investigates the terror cell.

As part of his argument, Damache admitted to the training of a child to prepare for the jihad. Prosecutors later identified the minor as Paulin-Ramirez child, which she brought with her.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez


Officials said that Damache, the group recruited men online to wage jihad in South Asia and Europe, and sought to recruit women with western passports to travel through Europe in support of the cause.

LaRose is where a 10-year prison sentence. Paulin-Ramirez and Khalid are released after serving their punishment.

The movement to try to Damache in the US was the counter to Trump promise to send terror suspects to the military prison in Guantanamo Bay. The AMERICAN Lawyer William McSwain said each case must be treated individually, but the extradition requests that began years ago were always based on Damache is tried in U.S. federal court.

This is exactly the kind of thing that we want to be involved in because we want to be in the business of preventing disasters to happen not cope with disasters after they happen,” McSwain said.

As part of his plea agreement, Damache get 15 years in prison and has waived his right to appeal the sentence. When his punishment is complete, Damache will be deported to Ireland or Algeria.

Formal sentencing is scheduled for October. 30.

Fox News’ Talia Kirkland and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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