NEW YORK – A U.S. citizen convicted of joining al-Qaida and participating in a failed 2009 suicide attack on a U.s. military base in Afghanistan has been ordered to serve 45 years in prison.
Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh was sentenced Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.
Farekh case attracted additional attention because of reports that Us officials had initially discussed whether to try to kill him in a drone strike, a step almost never against AMERICAN citizens. President Barack Obama eventually decided to try for a capture-and civil prosecution.
The Houston-born suspect was captured in Pakistan and brought to the U.S. in 2015.
Farekh’s lawyer, Sean Maher, said the forensic evidence was too weak to convict him, call fingerprint experts’ testimony ” junk science.”
Most of the charges against Farekh the result of an attack on the Forward Operating Base Chapman in the City of Khost, Afghanistan, Jan. 19, 2009.
The attackers drove two cars rigged with explosives. A first explosion injured several Afghans, including a pregnant woman, but a much larger bomb failed to go off, saving the lives of American soldiers.
The jury heard testimony about how forensic technicians in Afghanistan have recovered 18 of Farekh the fingerprints on tape used to bind the igniters on the unexploded bomb.
Farekh was convicted of conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and a conspiracy to commit material support to terrorists.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from Zarein Ahmedzay, one of the three men convicted in a thwarted plot to bomb New York in the subway. Ahmedzay, told jurors he was trained by an al-Qaida operative identified by prosecutors as a co-conspirator of Farekh together with him from Canada to Pakistan in 2007.