NEW YORK – An admitted Al Qaeda fighter was convicted on Thursday of federal terrorism charges for participating in a fierce firefight in Afghanistan that left two U.S. servicemen dead.
A jury in federal court in Brooklyn deliberated for about two hours Thursday before convicting Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Harun.
"As demonstrated by this case, the United States will be tireless in its efforts to hold Al Qaeda members accountable when they target American citizens serving their country abroad," Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in a statement.
Harun, 46, was extradited from Italy to the United State in 2012. Prosecutors told jurors that while in Italian custody, he confessed that he threw a grenade and shot at an American military unit in a 2003 ambush that killed Army Pvt. Jerod Dennis, of Antlers, Oklahoma, and Air Force Airman Ray Losano, of Del Rio, Texas.
While on the run, Harun later masterminded a failed plot to bomb a U.S. embassy in Nigeria, the government said. He was under the direct supervision of Al Qaeda higher-ups, including some still held at Guantanamo Bay, it said.
"The defendant is a man who made terrorism his life story," Assistant U.S. Attorney Melody Wells said in closing arguments on Thursday. "He made a career out of violent jihad."
The Saudi-born defendant who claims Niger citizenship had insisted he was a "warrior" who should face a military tribunal rather than a civilian court prosecution. He refused to attend his trial, and his lawyers took the usual step of not giving a closing argument and focusing on post-trial motions challenging a conviction.
Harun faces a possible life term at sentencing on June 22.