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American found guilty of conspiring to support al Qaeda, attack a US base

An American citizen was found guilty Friday of conspiring to aid al Qaeda and to bomb a US military base in Afghanistan.

Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 31, could face life in prison after a federal jury Brooklyn, New York, convicted him on nine counts, including conspiracy to murder US nationals and to use a weapon of mass destruction. His sentencing is set for January 11.

Federal prosecutors claimed Al Farekh was a member of the terror organization from 2007 to 2014. Court papers detailed his alleged participation in the January 2009 attack on a US military installation in Khost, Afghanistan, where a truck armed with explosives blew up at the gate of the base and a second truck was prepared to do more harm.

“The trial evidence showed that he was involved in a variety of terrorist activity,” acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente said after the verdict was rendered.

Al Farekh was born in Houston and grew up in Dubai. According to the US Attorney’s Office, he attended the University of Manitoba in Canada between 2005 and 2007, and there became friends with co-conspirators — and later fellow al Qaeda members — Ferid Imam and Maiwand Yar.

According to court documents, Al Farekh left to train in Pakistan after he watched videos encouraging violent jihad and online lectures by the now-deceased al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who “inspired numerous terrorist plots against Western targets.”

The plan in the 2009 Afghanistan attack, court records show, evidently was for the first truck to explode at the gate to the base while a second truck, following closely, carried “significantly more explosive ordinance” and was intended to detonate inside to “maximize casualties and damage.”

The second vehicle got stuck in the crater caused by the explosion of the first and did not detonate. Several Afghan nationals were injured, and a US soldier was knocked to the ground. Eighteen fingerprints collected from packing tape used to bind together the explosive materials matched to Al Farekh.