A federal jury convicted Friday American jihadi Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh on nine counts, and he now faces a life sentence for actions he took in Afghanistan in 2009.
His convictions include conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente announced the verdict outside the courthouse:
"Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh is an al Qaeda terrorist who conspired to kill Americans overseas. The trial evidence showed that he was involved in a variety of terrorist activity, including a VBIED attack on a U.S. military installation in Afghanistan in 2009. With today’s guilty verdict, Farekh is being held accountable for his crimes. Counterterrorism is the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue to use all tools available across the globe to bring to justice those who seek to harm Americans, including our brave servicemen and women who risk their lives in defense of our nation.'
A VBIED attack is one in which a vehicle is converted over to an improvised explosive device, sometimes colloquially referred to as a “rolling truck bomb.” The government provided evidence that Farekh participated in constructing one that was used in an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, in January of 2009.
The Justice Department also provided the following additional details following his conviction:
At trial, the government presented evidence that prior to traveling overseas to join al Qaeda, Farekh was a student at the University of Manitoba in Canada. In 2007, Farekh and two fellow students traveled to Pakistan with the intention of fighting against American forces overseas. Farekh and his co-conspirators had become radicalized watching video recordings encouraging violent jihad, listened to jihadist lectures, including lectures by now-deceased al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki. They 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.
One of Farekh’s co-conspirators, Ferid Imam, provided weapons and military-type training at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in September 2008. Among Imam’s trainees were Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, of Queens, New York, who intended to return to New York City to carry out a suicide attack in the subway system. During the trial, Ahmedzay testified that Imam as his weapons trainer. Zazi and Ahmedzay pleaded guilty pursuant to cooperation agreements and have yet to be sentenced. Medunjanin was convicted after trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Imam has been indicted for his role in the plot.
Boente was joined at the verdict announcement by Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Eastern New York Bridget Rohde, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York FBI Field Office William Sweeney Jr., and New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.