Virginian Convicted in Terror Plot; Jury Rejects Torture in Confession of Al Qaeda Scheme against Bush

Article excerpt


A Falls Church man accused in an al Qaeda conspiracy to assassinate President Bush was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Alexandria that rejected accusations he had been tortured by authorities in Saudi Arabia to obtain a confession.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, a U.S. citizen born to a Jordanian father, was convicted on charges of conspiracy to assassinate the president, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda terrorists, conspiracy to commit air piracy and conspiracy to destroy aircraft.

The jury reached its verdict after 2 1/2 days of deliberation. Abu Ali, the 1999 valedictorian of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, did not testify during the trial. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17.

"The evidence presented in this case firmly established Abu Ali as a dangerous terrorist who posed a grave threat to our national security," said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty. "This conviction is the result of extraordinary law-enforcement work and international cooperation. It serves as a clear warning to all that terrorists can and will be brought to the bar of justice."

Abu Ali told the court during an arraignment in February he had been tortured by Saudi officials. His attorneys said the U.S. government knew of the treatment before he was turned over to the FBI and returned to the United States to stand trial.

Defense attorney Ashraf W. Nubani said doctors found scars on Abu Ali's back showing he had been whipped.

But the government contended there was "no credible evidence" Abu Ali was tortured or mistreated in Saudi Arabia, adding that a U.S. doctor who examined him after his transfer to U.S. authorities "found no evidence of any physical mistreatment on the defendant's back or any other part of his body. …