War on Terrorism

Friday, May 15, 2015

High-Ranking al Qaeda Terrorist Sentenced for Conspiring to Kill Americans and Other Terrorism Offenses



Khalid al Fawwaz, 52, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was sentenced today to life in prison for multiple terrorism offenses relating to his participation in al Qaeda’s conspiracy to kill Americans.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York made the announcement.  U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York imposed the sentence in a proceeding attended by victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Fawwaz’s sentencing follows a six-week jury trial in January and February of this year, at which Fawwaz was convicted of all four counts with which he was charged.

“Fawwaz is a terrorist who for years served Usama bin Laden and held many positions within al Qaeda,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “With this sentence, he is being held accountable for his role in al-Qaeda's conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals worldwide during the 1990s.  This case is a testament to our commitment to bringing to justice those who threaten the United States and our interests around in the world, no matter how long it may take.”

“Khalid al Fawwaz, who played a critical role for al Qaeda in its murderous conspiracy against America, will now spend the rest of his life in a federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “As one of Osama bin Laden's original and most trusted lieutenants, Fawwaz led an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and a terrorist cell in Kenya before serving as bin Laden’s media adviser in London.  Fawwaz was bin Laden's bridge to the West, facilitating interviews of bin Laden in Afghanistan by Western media and disseminating bin Laden's 1996 declaration of jihad against America and his 1998 fatwah directing followers to kill Americans anywhere in the world.  To that end, on Aug. 7, 1998, al Qaeda operatives bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdering 224 innocent people and wounding thousands more.  Fawwaz conspired with a murderous regime, and the result was a horrific toll of terror and death.  The price he will pay, appropriately severe as it is, cannot possibly compensate his victims and their families.”

According to the evidence presented at trial:

During the early 1990s, Fawwaz trained at al Qaeda’s Jawar military training camp in Afghanistan and then became the emir, or head, of al Qaeda’s al Siddiq military training camp in Afghanistan.  In approximately 1993, Fawwaz moved to Nairobi, where he served as one of the leaders of the al Qaeda members there, during a time that al Qaeda was sending fighters through Nairobi to Somalia to fight, and to train Somalis to fight, U.S. and U.N. forces in Somalia.  Fawwaz was also a leader of al Qaeda in Nairobi when al Qaeda began its preparations to attack the U.S. Embassy there.

The evidence further showed that, in 1994, Fawwaz began to act as Osama bin Laden’s media representative in London.  Fawwaz served as bin Laden’s conduit to Western media, screening requests for interviews of bin Laden and facilitating travel to Afghanistan for journalists who were permitted interviews.  Fawwaz also publicized bin Laden’s threats of violence against the United States.  Among other things, Fawwaz delivered bin Laden’s August 1996 Declaration of Jihad against the United States to a journalist for publication and helped arrange for the publication of a February 1998 fatwa, signed by bin Laden and others, that claimed it was the individual duty of every Muslim to kill Americans, civilian and military, in any country where it was possible to do so.  In addition, Fawwaz provided al Qaeda with advice about how best to disseminate its message of terror to the West, and helped obtain items that were difficult to obtain in Afghanistan, such as generators, vehicles and communications equipment, for al Qaeda.  In addition, a list of al Qaeda members recovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the U.S. military in late 2001 contained Fawwaz’s alias and had him numbered ninth on the list.

Following Fawwaz’s arrest in England in September 1998, Fawwaz challenged his extradition to the United States for more than a decade.  He arrived in the Southern District of New York in October 2012.

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Fawwaz’s sentencing follows convictions for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, conspiring to murder officers and employees of the United States and conspiring to destroy buildings and property of the United States, each of which carried a maximum term of life in prison.  Fawwaz was also convicted of conspiring to attack national defense utilities, which carried a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Bharara in praising the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department.  Carlin and Bharara also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their efforts, as well as the New Scotland Yard for its cooperation in the investigation and prosecution.

The case is being prosecuted by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean S. Buckley, Adam Fee, Nicholas J. Lewin and Stephen J. Ritchin of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from Trial Attorney Joseph N. Kaster of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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