Algerian tied to cartoonist death plot guilty of terrorism

2018-07-24 14:43


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

An al-Qaeda suspect linked to a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist pleaded guilty on Monday in a US court to a terrorism charge.

Ali Charaf Damache was escorted into federal court in Philadelphia for the change of plea hearing wearing a drab green prison jumpsuit and handcuffed behind his back. The Algerian-born Irish citizen had been extradited from Spain last year after authorities said they were able to track his online efforts to recruit American and European citizens to join a jihadist movement.

The 53-year-old, whose online handle was Theblackflag, was accused of being involved in a terror cell that wanted to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilk, who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. The plot never materialised, authorities said.

"This is exactly the kind of case that we want to be involved in because we want to be in the business of preventing disasters from happening not dealing with disasters after they happen," said US attorney William McSwain. 

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER 

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Authorities issued an indictment for Damache in 2011 and worked with multiple entities to extradite him to face charges in a civilian court, a move that was counter to President Donald Trump's promise to send terror suspects to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. McSwain said each case has to be handled individually, but the extradition requests that began years ago were always based on Damache being tried in US federal court.

Damache pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists in exchange for prosecutors recommending a 15-year prison sentence including about four years of time served in Ireland and Spain and his agreeing to be deported. An identity theft charge was dropped as part of the deal.

Sentencing is scheduled for the end of October.

Prosecutors said Damache sought to recruit light-skinned women and others who did not fit the traditional terrorist profile to wage jihad. His targets included Colleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane," online; Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a single mother from Colorado; and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who at the time was a high school honours student from Maryland. They were all eventually arrested.

Damache married Paulin-Ramirez the day she travelled to Ireland to meet him in 2009. Paulin-Ramirez eventually helped the FBI investigate the terror cell.

As part of the plea, Damache admitted to training a child to prepare for jihad. Prosecutors later identified the minor as Paulin-Ramirez's child, who she brought with her.

Officials said that Damache's group recruited men online to wage jihad in South Asia and Europe, and sought to recruit women with western passports to travel through Europe in support of the cause.

LaRose is serving a 10-year prison term. Paulin-Ramirez and Khalid have been released after serving their sentences.

Read more on:    al qaeda  |  algeria  |  us  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.