NEW YORK – A former top aide to Usama bin Laden (search) was sentenced Monday to 32 years behind bars for stabbing a prison guard in the eye with a sharpened comb.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (search), 46, buried his face in his hands and put his head down as the guard, Louis Pepe, waved a black comb and told of the attack in 2000 that left him brain-damaged and barely able to see.
U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts ordered Pepe removed from the courtroom after several outbursts. As he was taken out, he shouted: "I'm dead! You understand that? I'm dead!"
After Pepe left the courtroom, followed in protest by more than a dozen prison guards, Salim told the judge: "I'm sorry. I'm trying to understand his loss."
Salim, appearing agitated with his right hand shaking uncontrollably, objected to some of Pepe's accusations, including an allegation that Salim and an accomplice had tried to rape Pepe. "If this happened, I'd ask you to execute me," Salim said.
Salim still faces trial and a possible life sentence on conspiracy charges in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
His accomplice in the attack on Pepe — Khalfan Khamis Mohamed (search) — was convicted in the embassy bombings case, which included charges related to the stabbing.
Salim has said he attacked the guard to try to get the prison keys and stab his two court-appointed lawyers waiting in a nearby conference room so that the judge in the terrorism case would be forced to appoint him new lawyers.
The government maintained that he planned to take hostages and organize a prison escape.
The judge called the attack "appalling" and said it was an "unusually cruel, brutal, gratuitous infliction of injury."
Batts also ordered Salim to pay Pepe $4.7 million, an amount likely never to be paid unless hidden assets are identified somewhere.