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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Yemeni cleric Mohammed Al Hassan al Moayad sentenced to 75 years for support to Al Qaeda

Yemeni cleric Mohammed Al Hassan al Moayad sentenced to 75 years for support to Al Qaeda

July 28, 2005

Terror Supporter Gets 75 Years
NEW YORK, July 28, 2005

A Yemeni cleric who bragged about his ties to Osama bin Laden was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison -- the maximum in a terrorism financing case that was nearly derailed when the government's star witness set himself on fire outside the White House.

A federal judge prefaced Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad's sentence with a recitation of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, beginning with a hijacked jet crashing into the World Trade Center.

"We all remember September the 11th," U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. said. "While the defendant is not being sentenced as a result of the events of 9/11, he came to the attention of the authorities because of 9/11."

A jury in March found al-Moayad, 57, guilty of conspiring to support and attempting to support al Qaeda and the Palestinian extremist group Hamas. He also was convicted of actually supporting Hamas, but acquitted of supporting al Qaeda.

FBI informants lured Al-Moayad to Germany in 2003 and was secretly recorded promising to funnel money to Hamas and al Qaeda. He also boasted that bin Laden called him "my sheik." He was arrested by German police and sent to the U.S.

One of the informants, Mohamed Alanssi, set himself on fire in Washington last November in what he later described as an attempt to get more money from the FBI, which paid him at least $100,000.

Alanssi recovered in time for the trial and described al-Moayad as a dedicated supporter of terrorism who boasted of giving bin Laden $20 million in the years before Sept. 11.

Defense attorneys argued that al-Moayad was duped into the terror-financing scheme by Alanssi, who played on the sheik's desire to fund a charitable bakery and other projects in Yemen.

The judge called the secretly recorded conversations "chilling" and drew a connection between al-Moayad's desire to fund terrorism, the Sept. 11 attacks and a suicide bus bombing in Israel that was described during the trial by one of the survivors.

"The logical question would be: How were the monies used by al Qaeda? How were the monies used by Hamas?" Johnson said.

Al-Moayad's attorney, William Goodman, said outside the court that no evidence connected al-Moayad to the Sept. 11 attacks. "I think it's terribly unfair," Goodman said.

Asking the judge for leniency, al-Moayad described a life of giving food, clothing and other assistance to poverty-stricken Yemenis.

Prosecutors hailed the sentence as a victory in the war on terrorism.

"Those who finance terrorist attacks and rejoice in the murder of innocent victims are no different from those who plant the bombs or carry the backpacks," U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorism, and this master terrorist financier richly deserves the maximum sentence imposed today."

Al-Moayad appeared distressed at what his lawyer said amounted to a life sentence.

"Your honor, what have I done?" he said in Arabic as he was led away.



US jails Yemeni al-Qaeda backer
Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad Moayad was convicted of conspiring to support al-Qaeda and Hamas
A Yemeni cleric who claimed to have ties with Osama Bin Laden has been sentenced to 75 years in prison in New York.

Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad was convicted on charges of conspiring to support the al-Qaeda network and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

At a meeting with two FBI informants in Germany, he was recorded promising to funnel more than $2m (1.1m) to Hamas.

He was arrested by German police in January 2003 and extradited to the US.

For each of five counts, Moayad received 15-year sentences, each to be served consecutively.

He was also fined $1.25m in a federal court.

He was convicted of conspiring to support al-Qaeda and Hamas, supporting the Palestinian group and attempting to support al-Qaeda.

The judge in the case, Judge Sterling Johnson, said videotaped evidence used to convict him was "chilling".

"He did provide material support, money, weapons and recruits to Hamas and al Qaeda," the judge said.

Witness sets himself on fire

One of the informants in the case, Mohamed Alanssi, set himself on fire outside the White House in November 2004.

He had complained about his treatment by the FBI after helping with several investigations.

At the trial, he testified as a hostile witness for the defence after prosecutors declined to put him on the stand.

Moayad was found guilty in March along with his aide, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, another Yemeni.

Zayed will be sentenced in September

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