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Al-Qaida terrorist refusing to attend his sentencing gets life in prison

Soldiers patrolling in Afghanistan. (Free Use/Flickr)
February 17, 2018

Al-Qaida terrorist Ibrahim Suleiman Harun Hausa, convicted last year of killing two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, refused to come to Brooklyn federal court for his sentencing on Friday, and the judge didn’t care.

“This is not my court, that is not my judge,” Harun, whose nom de guerre was “Spin Ghul,” told jail officials, according to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.

Harun has long taken the position that he is a soldier entitled to protections of the Geneva Convention and should be tried at the World Court, but Cogan said that argument had been rejected and would not stand in the way of a life sentence.

“He has one gear, and that’s to kill Americans,” Cogan said. “If this man ever walks the street again, what he will do is kill Americans. There is not mental health treatment for that….I don’t think this defendant should ever get out.”

Harun, 47, a Saudi, was convicted last year of participating in a 2003 ambush that led to the deaths of Army Pvt. Jerod Dennis, 19, and Air Force Airman Ray Losano, 23, and later leading a failed plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.

Imprisoned in Libya and Italy before being turned over to the U.S., he also refused to attend his trial, insisting he should face a military court. On Friday a two-way video feed to the jail would have allowed him to watch remotely, but his face never showed at the cell door.

When it came time for Harun to make a statement, Cogan had a member of the defense team at the jail ask him if he wanted to speak. After inquiring, she turned to the camera and said, “He does not appear to have anything to say.”

Cogan did hear from Dennis’ brother, and from two soldiers caught up in the 2003 ambush. One of them, Sgt. Brian Severino, said he had never been able to shake memories of the attack and guilt over the only two deaths under his command during a career in the military.

“All the combat after that I’ve never lost a soldier,” Severino said. “I just failed that one day, and it’s been hitting me hard for the last 15 years.”

Sgt. David Cyr, another member of the unit, said he hoped a life sentence would force Harun to “forever endure the failure of not taking my life… of my victory over you.”

Defense lawyers urged Cogan to give Harun less than life, arguing that although he lacked legal immunity he should be treated as a soldier instead of a murderer, and that torture in Libya and years of solitary confinement had badly damaged his mental health.

But Cogan was unmoved, saying Harun was unrepentant and had not limited his targets in the embassy plot to soldiers.

“The defendant killed two young men,” he said, “and wanted to kill dozens and maybe hundreds of others who were civilians.”