Suspect in Bush assassination plot convicted
Updated: 2005-11-23 08:27
An American Muslim student was convicted Tuesday of joining al-Qaida and
plotting to assassinate President Bush.
The federal jury rejected Ahmed Omar Abu Ali's claim that Saudi authorities
whipped and tortured him to extract a false confession.
Abu Ali, a 24-year-old U.S. citizen born to a Jordanian father and raised in
Falls Church, Va., could get life in prison on charges that included conspiracy
to assassinate the president, conspiracy to hijack aircraft and providing
support to al-Qaida.
The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days. Abu Ali swallowed hard before the
verdict was read but otherwise showed little emotion. He did not testify at his
"Obviously the jury has spoken, but the fight is not over," defense attorney
Khurrum Wahid said. "We intend to use the justice system to prove our client's
Abu Ali told authoritiees shortly after his arrest at a Medina, Saudi Arabia,
university in June 2003 that he joined al-Qaida and discussed various terrorist
plots, including a plan to personally assassinate Bush and to establish himself
as a leader of an al-Qaida cell in the United States.
But the defense countered that he was tortured by the Saudi security force
known as the Mubahith.
Ashraf Nubani, attorney for Ahmed Omar Abu
Ali, enters the U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005, in
Wahid suggested that an al-Qaida member arrested by the Saudis falsely
fingered Abu Ali to protect other cell members still at large. "You think the
al-Qaida guys are going to give up a fellow al-Qaida, or did they pick some
patsy from the University of Medina?" Wahid said in closing arguments.
Prosecutors said he was never mistreated and confessed voluntarily.
Prosecutors said Abu Ali went to Saudi Arabia in 2002 with the notion of
becoming a terrorist and later met al-Qaida's No. 2 man in Medina.
"The true focus of his education quickly became apparent," prosecutor Stephen
Campbell said. "Instead of studying Islamic law, he began attending secret
terrorist training sessions."