A Canadian al-Qaeda suspect who pleaded guilty in 2002 to plotting to bomb US embassies is to face a US court, in a case that has been shrouded in secrecy.
| Jabarah reportedly met Osama Bin Laden in 2001|
Prosecutors are expected to seek a life sentence when Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, 26, appears before a judge in New York.
Officials say Jabarah struck a plea deal in 2002, agreeing to work as an informant, but that his attitude has changed markedly in recent years.
They say his altered stance and ongoing plotting mean a new sentence is needed.
The case was made public on Thursday, more than five years after his capture.
Newly revealed court documents say Jabarah is of Iraqi descent and lived in Kuwait until the age of 12, when his family moved to Canada.
After leaving secondary school in 2001, he travelled to al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, where he met Osama Bin Laden, according to prosecutors.
They say he became a co-ordinator in a failed plot to bomb US embassies in the Philippines and Singapore in late 2001.
Jabarah was arrested in Oman in 2002 and deported to Canada, before pleading guilty in the US over the bomb plot.
Prosecutors say the case was kept secret because he had agreed to provide information about militants.
He lived an FBI housing facility rather than a prison, while working as an informant.
However, prosecutors say his attitude changed following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
They say he planned to kill FBI agents and officials assigned to his case.
"Jabarah's... post-plea jihadist scheming justify a life sentence," prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7196611.stm
Al-Qaeda Member Gets Life Sentence for Terror Plots (Update2)
By Patricia Hurtado
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- An al-Qaeda member who secretly admitted to being sent in 2001 by Osama bin Laden to bomb U.S. embassies in Manila and Singapore was sentenced to life in prison after planning to kill federal agents and prosecutors.
Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, 25, a Canadian citizen of Iraqi descent, pleaded guilty in 2002 to the foiled plots and provided information about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. During a search of Jabarah's room in 2002, prosecutors said they found he intended to kill FBI agents and prosecutors with whom he had contact. He subsequently refused further cooperation.
"He was one of those people who could have made a great difference in this country, had he cooperated," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones today in Manhattan. "He could have provided us with the opportunity to indict people around the world."
The government claimed that agents found two steak knives, a 3 1/2-foot length of nylon rope and notes in Arabic among Jabarah's possessions. In one note, he said "I swore to life in dignity or to die." In a letter to his parents, he wrote "I have a mission that I can't ignore."
His defense lawyer told Jones today that it was the government that chose to stop dealing with his client after the items were discovered, and that they were obtained by his client for legitimate purposes.
Jabarah, who admitted having trained at terrorist camps and having personally met bin Laden to whom he swore an oath of allegiance, also had a list of FBI agents, New York police detectives and prosecutors with whom he had contact and a list of tasks he wanted to complete, prosecutors claimed.
Jabarah today asked the judge to allow him to return to live with his family, which has relocated to Kuwait, instead of being sent to prison. He said he would like to study medicine, become an ophthalmologist.
"I do not believe in terrorism, violence or killing," Jabarah told Jones. "I am not, I repeat, I am not an infamous terrorist who was indoctrinated at an early age to kill Americans on a terrorist mission."
Jones said it was "tragic" that Jabarah ceased cooperation with the government after the alleged plot to kill federal officials was discovered.
She told Jabarah that, while he claimed that he'd been "brainwashed" at age 19 by the al-Qaeda leadership, it was his decision to participate in the terror plots.
"I understand how young people can make foolish mistakes," the judge said. "It seems to me that even a 19 or 20-year-old who'd make a decision to go ahead and kill people at the embassies had gone past being duped."
U.S. agents claimed to have found in Jabarah's possession a list of prosecutors and federal officers involved in terrorism cases in Manhattan, including the case of Ramzi Yousef, convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to court papers.
The lists also included officials involved in the cases of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was found guilty in a plot to bomb New York landmarks, and the four bin Laden followers convicted of involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, prosecutors said.
"Jabarah had secretly disavowed cooperation and was affirmatively planning further jihad operations, including in all likelihood the murder of government officials in some sort of suicide operation," prosecutors claimed.
The government alleged he had a photo of Mohammed Atta, a Sept. 11 hijacker, and had written over the picture "Commander of the 11 September units, may God bless his soul." On a photo of bin Laden, Jabarah allegedly wrote "God keep you" and "May he grant you the highest, most lavish and sweetest honors of heaven."
A note which prosecutors said Jabarah had written in Arabic states, "Oh God, make my aim accurate, balance my feet on the ground, protect my heart."
Defense lawyer Kenneth Paul told Jones that, while his client was living in a government safe house in 2002, he took a knife from the kitchen to protect himself from those angry about his cooperation. He said his client had a nylon rope to tie up a cardboard box where he'd kept a stereo.
Paul insisted that it was prosecutors who had "dropped the ball" by refusing to talk to his client after the items were discovered and that the U.S. had hardened his client's distrust of them by moving him to the high-security wing of the federal jail in Lower Manhattan where he was held in solitary confinement for 24 hours a day.
The government alleged that Jabarah also had directions for how to make an explosive device and possessed a map of Fort Dix, the U.S. Army installation in New Jersey where he was held for part of his time in secured custody. He had a U.S. Army memo describing New York City's drinking water system, a map of the city's water supply and testing results, prosecutors claimed.
On Oct. 31, a supermarket worker pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply weapons to three Muslim brothers accused of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix.
Agron Abdullahu admitted in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, that he supplied guns and ammunition to the three men. Prosecutors accused them of planning an attack with automatic weapons and possibly rocket-propelled grenades.
Prosecutors claimed they foiled the alleged plot with the May 7 arrest of six men including Abdullahu, of Buena Vista Township, New Jersey.
After the hearing, Paul said his client was disappointed because he'd hoped to be allowed to remain free and not be sent to prison.
"He thought he was going to convince the judge, based upon his background, his age, and everything that transpired, that she wouldn't give him a life sentence," Paul said, adding "I think indeed this was a waste of a life."
The case is Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, 02-cr-1560, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).