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Al-Qaida agent gets 8 years in prison

November 12, 2009 12:05:05 PM PST
Ali Al-Marri, a former Bradley University student convicted of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, has been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.A tearful Al-Marri told the court he was sorry for his actions.

The judge said he was a 'sleeper agent' for Osama Bin Laden, waiting to carry out the next wave of terror against water reservoirs, stock exchanges and U.S. military academies.

On Thursday afternoon, a federal judge said Al Marri would still like to attack the U.S. but then the judge handed Al-Marri a sentence that will allow him out in as little as five years.

Federal agents armed with automatic weapons surrounded the United States courthouse in Peoria on Thursday afternoon for Al-Marri's sentencing.

Such firepower was necessary when you weigh the last words from a pentagon official about Al-Marri: that he is "a continuing grave danger to the national security."

In a Peoria courtroom Thursday, a stunning sentence for such a significant threat.

District Judge Michael Mihm disregarded the 15-year maximum sentence requested by prosecutors.

Judge Mihm instead credited Al-Marri for the 71-months he spent in military custody at a South Carolina brig, held as an enemy combatant.

The judge sentenced Mr. Al-Marri to a prison sentence of slightly more than 8 years, even though he believed that the 44-year old, admitted al-Qaida plotter was likely to re-kindle his al-Qaida relationships.

The Al-Marri family arrived in America at O'Hare Airport on September 10, 2001.

As the planes hit the World Trade Center towers the next day, they were in a taxi to Peoria where Al-Marri was to attend graduate level computer classes at Bradley University. He had received his undergrad degree there ten years earlier.

Federal investigators said they had a trail of records proving that Al-Marri had a more sinister assignment to bomb American landmarks in a second wave of attacks.

"He's not Bonnie or Clyde. That's the whole point. He is something very different. He's more like Osama Bin Laden," said Miller Shealy, Al-Marri prosecutor.

With his guilty plea and Thursday's sentence, we may never know why Al-Marri traveled frequently between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and the United States or why his computer stored research on how to create large quantities of chemicals into deadly hydrogen cyanide gas.

In Al-Marri's Peoria apartment in 2001, federal agents also found more than 1,000 credit card numbers. Most had already been used in frauds and information about computer hacking and obtaining false identification.

There was also an oath written in Arabic. Translated into English, the oath said: "neither the United States nor anyone living in it will dream of security/safety before we live it in Palestine and before the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammed."


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