Critics of the United States government's efforts at cracking down on the support network of violent extremists had a bad day Tuesday. Oussama Abdullah Kassir was sentenced to life in prison for his role in providing material support to al Qaida.
Following a four-week trial in Manhattan, a jury found Kassir guilty of 11 counts for his role in attempting to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon. In addition to his efforts aimed at setting up a jihad training camp, Kassir operated several terrorist websites which contained instructions for making bombs and poison, and provided lessons in assembling and dissembling AK-47 automatic weapons. Moreover, Kassir's co-conspirators have been charged with "hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998, facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan, and supplying goods and services to the Taliban in 2000 and 2001."
Although there are many people who believe that the use of material support prosecutions are a form of imposing "guilt by association," these statutes are incredibly effective in cutting off the means by which terrorist groups plan, finance, and prepare for attacks. While there was no evidence presented that Kassir ever directly engaged in terrorist activity, his conviction and prosecution certainly make the world a safer place. In explaining the importance of the heavy sentence, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained:
"Kassir trained men to become terrorists on American soil. Today's life sentence underscores our unwavering commitment to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who supports al Qaeda's mission of violence and hate."
See full Department of Justice Press Release here.