By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Iraqi-Canadian man on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a U.S. charge that he helped orchestrate the April 2009 truck bombing of a U.S. base in Mosul, Iraq, that killed five soldiers.
Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to murder Americans. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, but prosecutors have agreed to a sentence of 26 years, under a plea deal described by U.S. District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf in Brooklyn.
Mauskopf did not decide Tuesday whether to accept that agreement. She said that if she decides not to accept it, ‘Isa will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Baldwin said in court that the prosecutors had consulted with the families of the victims of the attack, and that some supported the deal while others did not.
“While no amount of jail time can make up for the loss of a family member, the government believes that the agreed-upon sentence provides a fair and just resolution to the very serious charges brought against the defendant,” Baldwin said.
“We are mindful of how difficult this case is for so many, but think that the proposed plea agreement would be an appropriate resolution of the case,” Mildred Whalen, a lawyer for Isa, said in an email after the hearing.
‘Isa, who was born in Iraq and is an Iraqi and Canadian citizen, was arrested in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2011. He is also known as Sayfildin Tahir Sharif.
Prosecutors have said that, while living in Canada, ‘Isa conspired with a group of militants that carried out a suicide truck bombing on April 10, 2009, at the United States’ Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, the indictment charged ‘Isa with murdering each of the five victims and with supporting terrorists. Prosecutors said at a February 2015 court hearing that ‘Isa was working with Islamic state, according to court records.
‘Isa did not plead guilty to the murder charges or the terrorism charge.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)