A Canadian man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to U.S. terrorism charges that included sending funds to Tunisian jihadists and providing long-distance support. The guilty plea could spare him a life sentence.
Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa is accused of being associated with the Tunisian jihadists believed to be responsible for a 2009 suicide attack in Iraq that killed five Americans.
Muhammad ‘Isa appeared in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, this week, where murder conspiracy charges carry a maximum life sentence. His guilty plea instead may grant him a 26-year prison term followed by deportation as part of the deal. A federal judge is required to sign off on those terms following his trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Baldwin told the judge that prosecutors met with the families of each of the Americans killed during the 2009 suicide attack before agreeing to sentence terms that the government believes “will serve to punish (the defendant) and deter others, while also requiring the defendant to admit his participation in these heinous acts.”
Defense lawyer Mildred Whalen said in a statement: “We are mindful of how difficult this case is for so many, but think that the proposed plea agreement would be an appropriate resolution of the case.”
Muhammad ‘Isa moved to Toronto in 1993 as a Kurdish refugee before becoming a Canadian citizen.
In 2011, he was arrested on a U.S. warrant after an investigation by authorities in New York, Canada and Tunisia. The warrant was related to various pieces of evidence, along with an interview conducted by Muhammad ‘Isa that authorities say linked him to a terror network. The network used a suicide bomber to detonate a truck outside a U.S. base is Mosul, Iraq, on April 10, 2009, killing five U.S. soldiers.
During the interview, Muhammad ‘Isa admitted that he communicated via email with two jihadists who were stationed in Syria. The jihadists claimed that they were on a mission to kill Americans, the paperwork said. The documents also alleged that he communicated with “facilitators” who were trying to get the attackers into Iraq. Muhammad ‘Isa wired one of the terrorists $700.
U.S. authorities alleged 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 known?”
He also identified the bomber as “one of the Tunisian brothers,” to which a facilitator responded, “Praise God.”
U.S. officials also said Muhammad ‘Isa wanted to become a suicide bomber himself, telling his mother in 2009 that his greatest wish was to die a martyr.