An American citizen was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Tuesday for supporting Al Qaeda and helping to prepare a 2009 truck bomb attack on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“It is by the grace of God more people weren’t injured or killed,” the judge Cogan said.
Authorities lifted 18 fingerprints off a 7,500-pound bomb that could’ve destroyed the 90-member Khost operating base had it exploded instead of falling in a crater left by another truck bomb.
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One pregnant Afghan woman was hit by shrapnel that lodged in her back.
Al Farekh was convicted in September on charges of conspiring to murder Americans, using a weapon of mass destruction and supporting a foreign terrorist organization.
“Farekh, a citizen of this country, turned his back on America by joining Al Qaeda and trying to kill American soldiers,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.
At the sentencing, al Farekh’s lawyer read a letter from the 32-year-old, who was born in Houston and raised in Dubai.
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“I do not believe in violence and I don’t understand it,” he wrote.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Tucker dismissed the letter, saying trial evidence — including DNA evidence and testimony from former operatives — showed it wasn’t “worth the paper it’s printed on.”
Tucker had pressed for life in prison.
Still, Cogan said he didn’t believe al Farekh was “totally devoid of humanity,” citing his intelligence and affection for his family.
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The judge said with time served and possible good behavior reductions, he could be released when he’s 67.
Last month, Cogan imposed a life sentence on Al Qaeda terrorist Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Harun, 47, for participating in a 2003 attack on American soldiers in Afghanistan that killed two people, and plotting to bomb a U.S. embassy in West Africa.
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