A 32-year-old Texas man was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Tuesday for his role in an al Qaeda car bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh was sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn for aiding the terrorist group and helping plan the 2009 attack on U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan, which injured many, Reuters reports.
Before the sentencing, his lawyer, David Ruhnke, read a letter from Al Farekh that asked the judge to show leniency. The letter said that young men can be misled into joining violent groups.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan was unconvinced. “I just can’t draw anything from that,” he said, adding that the letter did not show “an enthusiastic acceptance of responsibility.”
Prosecutors were hoping Cogan would sentence him to life, but the judge cited statements from the defendant’s family and said he didn’t think Al Farekh was “totally devoid of humanity.”
Ruhnke said his client will appeal the conviction.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said the conviction demonstrated the Justice Department’s determination to prosecute any and all Americans who aid foreign terrorist groups.
“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,” Donoghue said in a statement.
“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.”
The Justice Department said Al Farekh and others received training from al Qaeda in Pakistan, where Al Farekh became a leader in the group.
“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 press release said.