Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 32, was sentenced in a Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday to 45 years in prison for helping to plot and carry out an al Qaeda car bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
Farekh, from Texas, helped the terrorist group plot the 2009 attack on U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan, according to Reuters and reported by The Hill.
Just before the judge passed the sentence, Farekh’s attorney, David Ruhnke, shared a letter with the court from Farekh. The letter pleaded for the judge to show compassion by arguing that young men can be deceived into joining violent groups.
Farekh and others received training from al Qaeda in Pakistan, where Al Farekh became a leader in the group, according to the Justice Department.
“I just can’t draw anything from that,” U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said. The letter did not show “an enthusiastic acceptance of responsibility,” the judge, who was unmoved by Farekh’s plea, added.
Statements from Farekh’s family spared him a life sentence that prosecutors wanted, but the judge said he didn’t think Farekh was “totally devoid of humanity.”
Farekh plans to appeal the conviction, according to his attorney.
“Farekh, a citizen of this country, turned his back on America by joining al Qaeda and trying to kill American soldiers in a bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. This case demonstrates that we will do everything in our power to ensure that those who seek to harm our country and our Armed Forces will be brought to justice,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement.
The conviction demonstrated the Justice Department’s determination to prosecute any and all Americans who aid foreign terrorist groups, he added.
“Taking advantage of his familiarity with the West, Farekh became a member of, and ultimately ascended to, a leadership role within al Qaeda’s external operations group, which specialized in planning and executing attacks against the U.S. and its Western allies,” the Justice Department said.