A U.S.-born “al-Qaeda terrorist” is facing up to life behind bars after a federal jury in New York found him guilty of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) to attack an American base in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“This guy is for real, and he is a bad guy,” declared Richard Tucker, a U.S. federal prosecutor, referring to the defendant Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh during the closing arguments, according to the Globe and Mail. “He is an honest-to-goodness al-Qaeda bad guy.”
In a press release issued after the jury convicted the defendant last Friday, DOJ identified Farekh as U.S. citizen, noting:
A federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, returned a guilty verdict today against Muhanad Mahmoud Al-Farekh on nine counts, including 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.
DOJ revealed that Farekh participated in several terrorist incidents overseas, including a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack back in 2009 on an American military installation in war-devastated Afghanistan.
Farekh is a former student at the University of Manitoba located in Winnipeg, the capital of Canada’s Manitoba province.
Echoing the DOJ, the Globe and Mail reports:
Mr. al-Farekh, an American citizen, was one of Winnipeg’s “Lost Boys,” three students who mysteriously disappeared and travelled to Pakistan, sparking alarm among intelligence officials in the U.S. and Canada.
The fates of Ferid Imam and Maiwand Yar, the Canadian members of the trio, remain unknown, although Mr. Yar is believed to be dead. During the trial in New York, an RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] officer testified that neither Mr. Imam nor Mr. Yar had returned to Canada since their departure on March 6, 2007.
Farekh was reportedly born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Dubai.
DOJ refers to Imam and Yar as Farekh’s co-conspirators, adding that they “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.”
All three former college students traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan located on the country’s border with Pakistan.
FATA is “home to al Qaeda’s base of operations, where they joined and received training from al Qaeda,” explains DOJ.
The United States government had considered killing him a drone strike, notes the Globe and Mail.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan is expected to sentence Farekh on January 11, 2018.
“Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh is an al Qaeda terrorist who conspired to kill Americans overseas,” proclaimed Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana Boente.
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill added, “While Farekh’s crimes occurred in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the defendant’s co-conspirator trained Najibullah Zazi and others who also intended to attack New York City’s subway system.”
Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde for the Eastern District of New York described the defendant as a “violent” member of al-Qaeda.