A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced terrorist Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 32, of Houston, to 45 years following his Sept. 29 trial, according to officials.
He was convicted of multiple offenses covering seven years of terrorist conduct, including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and providing material support to al-Qaeda, according to officials.
“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.” stated U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue of New York. “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.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which comprises a large number of federal, state, and local agencies from the region.
The evidence in the trial indicated that in March 2007, Farekh and two co-conspirators, all of whom were students at the University of Manitoba, departed Canada for Pakistan with the intention of fighting against American forces overseas.
Before traveling overseas, Farekh and his co-conspirators watched video recordings encouraging violent jihad, listened to jihadist lectures by now-deceased al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaqi, and came to embrace a violent, extremist view of Islam.
Farekh and his co-conspirators traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, an area in the northern part of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan and is home to al-Qaeda’s base of operations, where they joined and received training from al-Qaeda.
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.
In January 2009, Farekh helped to build a vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device (VBIED) that was used in an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman (FOB Chapman), a U.S. military installation that served as the base for the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Khost, Afghanistan.
On January 19, 2009, two explosives-laden vehicles approached the fence line of FOB Chapman, according to authorities.
At the gate, the first vehicle, a pickup-sized truck, exploded after its operator detonated the VBIED. The second vehicle, a truck that was carrying approximately 7,500 pounds of explosives, became stuck in the blast crater caused by the first explosion.
The driver abandoned his vehicle without detonating the VBIED, and was shot and killed by local security personnel.
The initial detonation of the first vehicle injured one U.S. serviceman and numerous Afghan nationals, officials said.
Forensic technicians recovered 18 latent fingerprints that were determined to be a match to Farekh from adhesive packing tape used to bind together the explosive materials of the second, undetonated VBIED, according to officials.