Court cuts jail for plot to kill US troops in Iraq

AP News
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Posted: Oct 13, 2010 1:40 PM
Court cuts jail for plot to kill US troops in Iraq

A Dutchman of Iraqi decent convicted and sentenced to 25 years in the U.S. for plotting to kill American troops in Iraq will be set free late Wednesday after a Dutch court slashed his sentence.

Wesam al-Delaema was not required to serve any more jail time because he has already spent two-thirds of his sentence behind bars in both the Netherlands and the U.S. _ a standard policy used in the Dutch court system.

As part of an extradition deal between the Netherlands and the U.S., it was agreed that his sentence would be converted to the Dutch equivalent. Ultimately, he would serve his sentence in the Netherlands after his American trial.

Al-Delaema, a naturalized Dutch citizen, returned to his hometown of Fallujah, Iraq, in October 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion. There, he videotaped himself holding roadside bombs and praying that the explosives would kill American troops.

In an interview broadcast on Dutch television in the same year, al-Delaema accused the U.S. and its allies of waging war on Iraq to control its oil reserves and said that he would willingly sacrifice himself for the Iraqi civilians who have died at the hands of the U.S. He was arrested in the Netherlands in 2005.

Al-Delaema was held in Dutch prison after his arrest until 2007, when he was extradited to the U.S. In April 2009, he was convicted in a U.S. court and sentenced to 25 years in prison. As part of the extradition deal, he was sent back to the Netherlands in March 2010. He was sentenced to eight years in Dutch prison Wednesday, but was released because he had already served 5 1/2 years of that time.

"It is the end of a nightmare," said al-Delaema's lawyer, Victor Koppe.

Koppe has argued that al-Delaema was forced to make the video after he was kidnapped and beaten. Koppe also said that his client admitted making the video, but did nothing else to warrant his conviction.

U.S. prosecutors said it was impossible to determine whether the bombs al-Delaema held in his video killed any Americans. They noted that within 10 days following the release of the video, four Americans were killed in two roadside bomb explosions in the Fallujah area.

Al-Delaema is the only Iraq war insurgent convicted by a U.S. court.