Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 32, of Houston, was sentenced today to 45 years following his Sept. 29, 2017 trial conviction of multiple offenses covering seven years of terrorist conduct, including conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to bomb a government facility and providing material support to al-Qaeda.
“With the sentence handed down today, al Qaeda terrorist Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh is being held accountable for his crimes. Farekh – an American citizen – traveled overseas, joined al Qaeda, and conspired to kill Americans, including through an attack using explosive devices on a U.S. military installation in Afghanistan in 2009,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.
“Farekh, a citizen of this country, turned his back on America by joining al-Qaeda and trying to kill American soldiers in a bomb attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.
As proven at trial, in March 2007, Farekh and two co-conspirators, all of whom were students at the University of Manitoba, departed Canada for Pakistan with the intention of fighting against American forces overseas. Before traveling overseas, Farekh and his co-conspirators watched video recordings encouraging violent jihad, listened to jihadist lectures by now-deceased al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaqi, and came to embrace a violent, extremist view of Islam.
Farekh and his co-conspirators traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, an area in the northern part of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan and is home to al-Qaeda’s base of operations, where they joined and received training from al-Qaeda. Taking advantage of his familiarity with the West, Farekh became a member of, and ultimately ascended to, a leadership role within al-Qaeda’s external operations group, which specialized in planning and executing attacks against the U.S. and its Western allies.
In January 2009, Farekh helped to build a vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device (VBIED) that was used in an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman (FOB Chapman), a U.S. military installation that served as the base for the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Khost, Afghanistan. On January 19, 2009, two explosives-laden vehicles approached the fence line of FOB Chapman. At the gate, the first vehicle, a pickup-sized truck, exploded after its operator detonated the VBIED. The second vehicle, a truck that was carrying approximately 7,500 pounds of explosives, became stuck in the blast crater caused by the first explosion. The driver abandoned his vehicle without detonating the VBIED, and was shot and killed by local security personnel. The initial detonation of the first vehicle injured one U.S. serviceman and numerous Afghan nationals. Forensic technicians recovered 18 latent fingerprints that were determined to be a match to Farekh from adhesive packing tape used to bind together the explosive materials of the second, undetonated VBIED.
According to CNN:
Al Farekh was born in Houston and grew up in Dubai. According to the US Attorney’s Office, he attended the University of Manitoba in Canada between 2005 and 2007, and there became friends with co-conspirators — and later fellow al Qaeda members — Ferid Imam and Maiwand Yar.
What did the terror-trio do at the University of Manitoba? As noted at the time of his arrest, al Farekh joined the jihadi-spawning Muslim Student Association (MSA) – click to read list:
Two other individuals went with Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh to train with Al Qaeda in Pakistan in 2007. All three were former leaders of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Manitoba. Al Farekh and Maiwand Yar are identified as such on the MSA Manitoba 2005-2006 Executive Body webpage. In 2010, the third individual, Ferid Imam, was identified as a former MSA Manitoba president by another former president of the association, Shariq Kidwai, in the Winnipeg Free Press / WebArchive – Archive.Today.