- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Federal prosecutors have indicted a Dutch resident for conspiring to kill members of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq — the first criminal charges filed in connection with the insurgency against American forces in that country.

The indictment, filed Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington, charges Iraqi-born Wesam Delaema, 32, who is in Dutch custody, with conspiring to bomb U.S. convoys in Fallujah, Iraq.

Despite attacks every day against U.S. forces in Iraq, these are the first criminal charges to be filed against anyone involved with them. The United States government claims jurisdiction over terrorist slayings of U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Washington, said the federal courts in the capital have jurisdiction over crimes committed in “the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States”; that the suspect was in the custody of a friendly power; and that there was clear evidence in the form of video recordings.

“Everything just came together for this one case,” Mr. Phillips said, adding that prosecutors were preparing an extradition request.

A Dutch official at the embassy in Washington said extradition hearings could take up to a year, but that if the courts cleared the way, the government almost certainly would accede to the U.S. request.

“The minister [making the decision] will want to ensure that the Netherlands continues to be a good ally in the war on terror,” said Richard Gerding, the counsel for justice and home affairs at the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

The indictment and other court documents say Mr. Delaema was arrested in May in the Dutch city of Amersfoort, after a search of his apartment turned up “videotapes and other visual recordings … of numerous attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq.”

The documents charge that authorities recovered video recordings that Mr. Delaema had made of a trip to Iraq in October 2003, when he drove to Fallujah, where U.S. authorities say he was born, in his car, an Opel Omega.

“While in Iraq,” the documents say, “Delaema traveled to an area near Fallujah, Iraq, where he met with at least six other individuals.

“Delaema and his associates, each of whom wore a hooded mask over his head, created a video of their meeting” during which “Delaema gave a speech in Arabic” proclaiming his associates and himself as “the Mujahedin of Fallujah.”

Mr. Delaema and his associates also videotaped themselves demonstrating how to bury improvised explosive devices under the road, and to detonate them by remote control.

On the video, they discussed the value of separating charges by 50 feet or more in order to strike more than one vehicle in the convoy, the documents say.

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