NEW YORK – A Canadian man pleaded guilty Tuesday to U.S. charges that he sent money and provided long-distance support to Tunisian jihadists believed responsible for 2009 suicide attack in Iraq that killed five American soldiers. The deal could spare him a term of life behind bars.
Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn to murder and conspiracy charges that a maximum life sentence. He is instead faced with a 26-year prison sentence, followed by deportation as part of the deal that a judge must still sign out.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Baldwin told the court that the plaintiffs met in person with the families of each of the victims before agreeing to a sentence, the government believes “will serve to punish (the defendant) and the deterrence of others, while also requiring the defendant to admit his participation in this horrific act.”
Lawyer Mildred Walen said in a statement: “We are aware of how difficult this is the case for so much, but think the proposed plea agreement would be a suitable solution of the case.”
Muhammad ‘Isa, 50, is a Canadian citizen and Iraqi national who was arrested in 2011 on a U.S. warrant after an investigation by the authorities in New York, Canada and Tunisia. He was held in Edmonton, Alberta, until he lost an extradition fight in 2015.
A request for extradition cited wiretap evidence and an interview of Muhammad ‘Isa that U.S. authorities claim linked him to the terror network that a suicide bomber to detonate an explosives-laden truck outside the gate of the U.S. base in Mosul, Iraq, on April 10, 2009, killing the soldiers.
During the interview, Muhammad ‘Isa admitted he corresponded by email with two of the jihadists, while they are in Syria, and that they are on a mission to kill Americans, the paperwork said. The documents allege he corresponded with “facilitators” who is trying to get the attackers into Iraq, and wired one of them $700.
The AMERICAN government claimed that the day after the attack on the U.S. base, Muhammad ‘Isa asked in an electronic communication, “Did you hear about the huge incident yesterday? Is it already known?” He also identified the bomber as “one of the Tunisian brothers,” to which a facilitator responded, “praise God.”
Muhammad ‘Isa told investigators in the interview that by “huge incident” he meant an explosion, the papers said.
No sentencing date was set.