Syrian man gets life in prison for making bomb component
PHOENIX (AP) — A Syrian man was sentenced to life in federal prison for his conspiracy convictions for making circuit boards that were used to remotely detonate roadside bombs in attacks against U.S. soldiers during the Iraq War.
Authorities say Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah (AL-ah-med-AL-ab-dahl-OK’-lah) made circuit boards that were used to detonate bombs for the 1920 Revolution Brigades, an insurgent group that claimed responsibility for 230 attacks against American soldiers in Iraq from 2005 to 2010.
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Alahmedalabdaloklah’s four convictions, arguing he hasn’t shown any remorse for his actions. His attorneys said their client had no prior convictions and complained that co-conspirators haven’t been prosecuted for their role in the crimes.
Alahmedalabdaloklah twice declined a judge’s requests to make statements in court about his case.
U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver said Alahmedalabdaloklah had a college education and technical expertise, but instead chose to use those skills to help make bombs for money. “Mr. Alahmedalabdaloklah knew what these were being used for,” Silver said shortly before handing down the sentence.
The case stemmed from a raid a decade ago at a Baghdad apartment where soldiers discovered a large cache of bomb-making materials, though no explosives were found. Prosecutors say his fingerprints were found on several items in the apartment.
Several people have tied him to the production of IED components, including one person who said Alahmedalabdaloklah found a factory in China to make the circuit boards after he fled Iraq, authorities said.
Alahmedalabdaloklah was convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to destroy U.S. government property with an explosive, possessing a destructive device in furtherance of a violent crime and conspiring to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.
He was acquitted on charges of providing support to terrorists and conspiring to commit extraterritorial murder of a U.S. national.
Prosecutor Joseph Kaster said Alahmedalabdaloklah chose to associate himself with people who used violence in a bid to force American troops to abandon Iraq. “The defendant has forfeited his right to remain free in society,” Kaster said.
Gregory Bartolomei, one of Alahmedalabdaloklah’s attorneys, said a life sentence wasn’t warranted for his client. Bartolomei described Alahmedalabdaloklah as a law abiding person “who has lost everything — literally everything — in his life.”
Defense attorneys have said Alahmedalabdaloklah, who was brought to Iraq as a refugee when he was a child, operated a legitimate electronics shop in Baghdad and moved to China when security in Iraq deteriorated. They say he set up an electronics business in China that sold products in Iraq and elsewhere but never sent any components used in a bomb.
He was arrested in May 2011 after flying to Turkey from China. He was jailed for three years in Turkey before being extradited to the United States in August 2014.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades, the group he was accused of selling parts to, was active against U.S. forces in Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq until it switched sides in 2007 to fight against al-Qaida. The group derived its name from the 1920 revolution in which Iraqis revolted against a British occupation.
The trial was held in Phoenix because authorities say Alahmedalabdaloklah got components for a wireless initiation system used in the IEDs from a company based in Arizona.
Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud