American al-Qaeda member trained in Pak convicted of aiding terror acts

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Washington, Sept 30 (PTI): An American al-Qaeda member trained in Pakistan’s unruly tribal belt has been convicted by a US court for his involvement in a number of terror attacks in Afghanistan, including one on a US military base.

Convicted on nine counts, Muhamad Mahmoud Al-Farekh now faces up to life in prison. “Today, an American al-Qaeda member was brought to justice in a US courtroom,” said Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde.

The trial evidence showed that he was involved in a variety of terrorist activities, including a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack on a US military installation in Afghanistan in 2009, said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. According to court papers, prior to travelling overseas to join al-Qaeda, Farekh was a student at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

In 2007, Farekh and two fellow students travelled to Pakistan with the intention of fighting against American forces overseas. Farekh and his co-conspirators had become radicalised by watching video recordings encouraging violent jihad and listening to jihadist lectures, including lectures by now- deceased al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al- Awlaki.

They travelled 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, federal prosecutors alleged. 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 identified 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.

The government proved Farekh’s participation in the building of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that was used in an attack against Forward Operating Base Chapman (FOB Chapman) on January 19, 2009 in Khost, Afghanistan.

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