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Press Release

Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on Guilty Plea by Ali Al-Marri

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

"A short while ago, in an Illinois courtroom, Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. By entering into this agreement, al-Marri admitted that he worked for and provided material support to al-Qaeda with the intent to further its terrorism objectives and activities here in the United States.

"Without a doubt, this case is a grim reminder of the seriousness of the threat we, as a nation, still face. But it also reflects what we can achieve when we have faith in our criminal justice system and are unwavering in our commitment to the values upon which this nation was founded and the rule of law.

"Just days after taking the oath of office, President Obama directed me to lead an interagency review of the al-Marri case. At the time, al-Marri had been sitting in a naval brig in South Carolina for more than five years facing no charges.

"As a result of that review and an examination of the evidence gathered during the extensive investigation of al-Marri by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, we decided to charge al-Marri in federal court. In February, a federal grand jury in Illinois indicted al-Marri on two counts of providing and conspiring with others to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

"That led us to where we are today - the resolution of this case that will send al-Marri to prison for up to 15 years.

"There are many milestones we achieve today, not the least of which are –

--The conviction of an al-Qaeda sleeper agent captured in the United States;

-- The certainty that our criminal justice system can and will hold terrorists accountable for their actions, and;

-- The triumph of the exhaustive efforts of dedicated professionals at the Justice Department and many other agencies involved in this case.

"The Department of Justice is resolved to protect the American people in a manner consistent with our values and to prosecute alleged terrorists to the full extent of the law.

"Our nation will be stronger – and safer – for that approach.

"There are many goals to which we aspire, but none more important than defending our nation and its citizens from acts of terrorism while ensuring we abide by the rule of law and the spirit of our Constitution.

"I can say to you today that the Justice Department met that challenge in this case.

"We will be unwavering in the defense of our country, its citizens and the values that define us as a nation. We will keep the American people safe and our civil liberties intact – there is not a tension between the two. Let this serve as a warning to all those who might do us harm: you will be hunted down, you will be held accountable. Nothing will prevent the full might of the American government and its people and allies from vanquishing those who might try to do us harm, wherever you are.

"I would like to thank all of the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who dedicated so much to this case and this outcome, including the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Springfield, Illinois, the U.S. Attorneys offices for the Central District of Illinois and the District of South Carolina, and many other federal, state and local agencies."

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-417