WASHINGTON – An Iraqi-born Dutch citizen was sentenced to 25 years in prison today for conspiring to murder Americans overseas, including by planting roadside bombs targeting U.S. soldiers in Fallujah, Iraq, and by demonstrating on video how these explosives would be detonated to destroy American vehicles and their occupants.
The sentencing of Wesam al-Delaema, age 36, was announced today by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Jeffrey A. Taylor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; and Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Field Office.
At a hearing today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Paul Friedman imposed the 25-year sentence against al-Delaema for conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals outside the United States. Al-Delaema pleaded guilty to this charge on Feb. 25, 2009. The Court made a finding that this offense was a federal crime of terrorism. In addition, video materials referenced in al-Delaema’s factual proffer were played in court for the first time.
On Tuesday, in a separate case, al-Delaema was sentenced in Superior Court for the District of Columbia to 18 months imprisonment for aggravated assault. Al-Delaema pleaded guilty to this charge on March 3, 2009, admitting that he kicked a D.C. prison guard to the point of unconsciousness while the guard was prone on the ground during an incident at the D.C. jail in 2007. The prison guard sustained significant injuries, including a subdural hemorrhage, during the incident.
The sentences for these separate offenses are to be served concurrently and were agreed upon as part of the global plea agreement. According to an agreement between the United States and the Netherlands, al-Delaema will serve out his sentence in the Netherlands.
According to the plea agreement and factual proffers filed in court, between October 2003 and May 2, 2005, al-Delaema entered into an agreement with several co-conspirators to murder U.S. nationals in Iraq. As part of the conspiracy, al-Delaema travelled to Fallujah in October 2003. There, al-Delaema and his co-conspirators -- calling themselves the "Mujahideen from Fallujah" -- declared their intentions to kill Americans in Iraq using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
As part of the conspiracy, al-Delaema and his co-conspirators discussed and demonstrated, on video, the way in which the IEDs they had buried in a road near Fallujah would be detonated and would destroy American vehicles driving on the road and kill the American occupants of those vehicles.
According to the factual proffer that he agreed to, al-Delaema not only created "how-to" and recruitment videos, but also filmed the effects of roadside attacks in Iraq. Furthermore, after his return to the Netherlands, al-Delaema continued to attempt to obtain propaganda videos for those seeking to kill Americans in Iraq, frequently attempting to obtain raw footage of attacks on Americans in Iraq.
Al-Delaema was arrested by Dutch law enforcement authorities on May 2, 2005, and he initially faced similar charges in that country. Following his arrest, Dutch law enforcement and prosecution authorities worked cooperatively with the FBI in its investigation of al-Delaema’s terrorist activities.
In September 2005, the United States filed a formal request with the Netherlands seeking al-Delaema’s extradition. The extradition request was subsequently granted by a Dutch court and then by the Dutch Ministry of Justice. In December 2006, the extradition request was sustained on appeal in the Netherlands. In January 2007, al-Delaema was flown to the United States, arrested and taken into custody by the FBI.
"This case represents the first use of U.S. criminal courts to prosecute an individual for terrorism offenses against Americans in Iraq," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "The sentence imposed today should serve notice that the United States will use all available tools to pursue those who would plot attacks against our men and women serving in Iraq."
"The actions of this defendant were repugnant and contributed to the considerable violence against Americans in Iraq," stated U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor. "This case, which represents the first use of the United States criminal courts to prosecute an individual for terrorism offenses against Americans in Iraq, demonstrates our resolve to use every tool at our disposal to defend Americans, both at home and abroad."
"The FBI is prepared at a moments notice to vigorously investigate injuries and threats to citizens, whether they occur in or outside the United States," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Joseph Persichini, Jr. "We would particularly like to thank our Dutch law enforcement partners who worked with us for the past four years to bring this case to fruition."
The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Dutch National Police Agency and the National Office of the Public Prosecutor in the Netherlands. The Office of International Affairs in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice coordinated the extradition efforts on behalf of the United States.
The prosecutors handling the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg Maisel and Rachel Lieber of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David I. Miller of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.