Mauritania sentences alleged al-Qaida leader to 20 years

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2015 1:18 PM

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A criminal court in Mauritania sentenced a suspected senior al-Qaida leader to 20 years in prison for "terrorist" activities, the state prosecutor said Tuesday.

Younis al-Mauritani was sentenced Monday and will serve time in Nouakchott's central prison, said state prosecutor Ahmed Baba.

Al-Mauritani was believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests around the globe, according to statements made announcing his arrest. His arrest by Pakistani agents working with the CIA was made public six days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Al-Mauritani was also wanted in Mauritania for his alleged involvement in an Islamic extremist attack in June 2005 in which 17 Mauritanian soldiers were killed, according to a Mauritanian official.

The official in June 2013 said that al-Mauritani was flown by U.S. authorities from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and handed over to Mauritanian security forces. The official had insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Pakistan's arrest statement in 2011 said al-Mauritani was mainly responsible for al-Qaida's international operations and was tasked by bin Laden with hitting targets of economic importance in America, Europe and Australia. It said he was planning attacks on gas and oil pipelines, power-generating dams and oil tankers that would be hit by explosive-laden speed boats in international waters.