As we reported Wednesday, an Ohio federal judge sentenced Mohammad Amawi to 20 years in prison for his role in conspiring to kill U.S. troops serving in Iraq. A prosecution sentencing memorandum detailed the various ways Amawi "has demonstrated a committed and serious desire to attack and kill Americans" with the intent of attacking his "perceived enemies of Islam – specifically U.S. troops in Iraq."
Later Wednesday, co-conspirator Marwan El-Hindi received a 12-year sentence for convictions in the same conspiracy. Both men could have faced life in prison if U.S. District Judge James Carr applied what is known as a "terrorism enhancement" to the sentencing guidelines, but he did not.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors emphasized postings El-Hindi made on web page for "Ekhlass." Evidence presented during the trial showed that the site offered "online jihadist training, and featured, among other items, a photograph of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri on its banner."
El-Hindi, a Palestinian by birth, is a U.S. citizen. He was a regular user of the Ekhlass site and his user ID was used to post "numerous messages advocating violent jihad, including: wishing death upon an individual who has made insults to Islam; asking that God 'kill Jews and Americans' in response to a posted video link depicting the manufacture of a rocket launcher and an attack on a U.S. base in Iraq [and] declaring repeatedly 'I am a terrorist,'" prosecutors wrote.
El-Hindi allowed his children to be present when Amawi discussed his desire to kill Arab leaders, the memorandum said. "When Amawi expressed a desire to drink an Iraqi policeman's blood, El-Hindi warmly invited Amawi over to his family home. It is no surprise, then, that El-Hindi did not keep his views on violent jihad from his minor children and even encouraged his young wife to view videos of beheadings and battlefield deaths."
El-Hindi worked to make his dreams a reality, making "extraordinary efforts" to find and pay for jihad training.
Moreover, prosecutors wrote:
"El-Hindi also secured a step-by-step guide to the placement of an IED [improvised explosive device] against U.S. soldiers through his membership on the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) email list. As the evidence showed at trial, the IAI is a group devoted to staging mass-casualty attacks in western Iraq – in short, a terrorist group. El-Hindi benefited from his membership on the IAI's mailing list to receive the IED 'slideshow,' entitled 'The Mujahidin in Iraq and the art of planting explosive charges ,' which he promptly provided to Griffin. Judging from the damage inflicted on the U.S. vehicle in the document, it would be no surprise to learn that…members of the U.S. military died in the attack."
The third man convicted in the case, Wassim Mazloum, "repeatedly indicated that his own personal objective was to obtain training in the construction of explosives and the setting of ambushes. He also made very clear his intention to join the fighting against the U.S. military in Iraq," the government noted. "Mazloum repeatedly sought information on contributing money to the jihadis killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, going so far as to offer his used car business as a cover."
Mazloum was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Mazloum, (who emphasized his family connections with Hizballah to fellow conspirators), said he wanted to wage jihad against Israeli forces in Lebanon or U.S. forces in Iraq. "The fact that Mazloum would later indicate a willingness to engage in jihad in those areas that were deemed occupied by the militaries of the United States or Israel, then, is completely in line with the objectives of the conspiracies – to murder and maim individuals outside the United States, including American service members," the government brief noted.