Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kentucky jihadist gets 25 to life for conspiring to ship weapons to Iraq

His lawyer, JIm Earhart argues that Mohanad Shareef Hammadi "grew up in a different world" and that he was not very smart.  He also said Hammadi never intended to ship anything to Iraq, let alone weapons and cash.  I like what Robert Spencer said about Hammadi's intentions, " know how these things can just happen to someone. You can be just going about your business, walking the dog, buying groceries, and whammo! Suddenly you find yourself shipping weapons to al-Qaeda! I hate when that happens."

From WLNS August 21 by Brett Barrouquere 

Iraqi man pleads guilty in Ky. terrorism case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An Iraqi man pleaded guilty Tuesday to 10 charges of conspiring to send weapons, cash and explosives to al-Qaida in Iraq and two counts of lying to federal immigration agents to get into the United States and stay in the country.

Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 24, gave simple "yes" and "I plead guilty" answers to questions from U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in federal court in Louisville. The surprise plea came a week before Hammadi was set to stand trial on the charges in Bowling Green, Ky., where he and a co-defendant were arrested in May 2011 after a federal sting operation.

Hammadi, who did not have a plea agreement with prosecutors, faces 25 years to life in federal prison plus millions of dollars in fines when he's sentenced Dec. 5. He had been scheduled for trial Aug. 28 in Bowling Green. The co-defendant, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, previously pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 3 in Bowling Green.

The plea came as good news to soldiers who fought near the city of Bayji, Iraq, in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad in 2005, where Hammadi and Alwan told the FBI they worked as insurgents. Six Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers died in that area in August 2005 and Hammadi and Alwan told the FBI and an informant that they were active insurgents there.

Justin Hunt of Alexandria, Va., served with the 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment of the Rhode Island National Guard near Bayji. His unit responded to assist on Aug. 9, 2005, when a roadside bomb killed four of the soldiers from Pennsylvania. Hunt sees Hammadi's plea as justice.

"This guy was not smart," Hunt told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "He was just lucky. His luck has run out."

Brandon Miller of Chadds Ford, Pa., received a Purple Heart for burn injuries he sustained after his Humvee blew up after hitting a roadside bomb near Bayji. He described the plea as "outstanding."

"It spares everybody a lot of trouble," said Miller, a former Pennsylvania National Guard sergeant.

Hammadi's defense attorney, Jim Earhart of Louisville, said his client "grew up in a different world" and never intended to get caught up in shipping weapons and explosives to al-Qaida in Iraq. Earhart described Hammadi as willing to plead guilty rather than go through the rigors of a trial to achieve the same result.

"He's hesitant. He's 24 years-old," Earhart said. "He's looking at 25 years to life. Who wouldn't be?"

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