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American al-Qaeda member convicted for helping blow up U.S. military base

September 29, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, right, sits as his lawyer, David Ruhnke delivers an opening statement to jurors in Brooklyn’s federal court. Court sketch by Shirley Shepard.
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An 11-person jury convicted an American al-Qaeda member Friday, charged for helping bomb a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, officials said.

After a two-week trial and three days of jury deliberations, Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 31, was found guilty of all nine counts of an indictment that charged him for a 2009 bombing on a U.S. military base.

An experienced team of terrorism prosecutors cause Brooklyn’s federal court to be a magnet for terror cases. This guilty verdict adds to an already strong track record of terrorism convictions for the court.

The Houston, Texas-born terrorist faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 11, prosecutors said.

Deliberations were stalled numerous times by Al Farekh’s father, who requested to speak with his son and caused the dismissal of four jurors for speaking with them in an elevator.

The father did not appear in court Friday.

“The sky was clear, the air was still, and then boom – a bomb went off!” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Saritha Komatireddy at the trial’s opening statements.

Komatireddy told jurors that 18 of Al Farekh’s fingerprints were found on packing tape used to bind a bomb onto a truck that was planned to destroy the U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.

As two truck bombs approached the base on Jan. 19, 2009, the first one detonated, injuring a U.S. soldier and sending an 18-inch piece of shrapnel into a pregnant woman’s back, prosecutors said.

A second truck loaded with 7,500 pounds of explosives got stuck in a crater that was created by the first explosion, thwarting an attempt to detonate inside the base.

The driver of the second vehicle was shot dead by base security and the driver of the first vehicle died in the blast.

Prosecutors relied on the fingerprints, DNA and testimonial evidence from cooperating former terrorists.

The defense argued that forensic evidence was inconclusive and warned jurors that government cooperators had 

something to gain from a guilty verdict, but ultimately the note didn’t strike with the jury.

After being raised in Dubai, Al Farekh moved to Canada to attend the University of Manitoba from 2005 to 2007, court filings show.

There he joined the Muslim Students Association and became friends with co-conspirators, Ferid Imam and Maiwand Yar, with whom he went to Pakistan in 2007 and joined the ranks of al-Qaeda.

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