WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge said he would approve a 25-year sentence agreed to as part of a plea deal with Wesam al-Delaema, who videotaped himself and others showing off roadside bombs they said they would use to kill Americans.
But District Judge Paul Friedman acknowledged the actual time the defendant will receive in a Dutch court is beyond U.S. control. On Wednesday, he encouraged the Netherlands to impose the 25-year sentence on the Iraq war insurgent.
Al-Delaema, a 36-year-old born and raised in Fallujah who became a Dutch citizen as an adult, is the first insurgent from the Iraq war prosecuted in U.S. courts
He was extradited from the Netherlands two years ago in an agreement that said he would be tried in federal court _ not by a military commission, such as those set up for terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Under the deal, he also must be returned to the Netherlands after sentencing, where a Dutch judge will decide how much time he should serve under the Dutch system.
The judge noted that he didn’t sign off on the deal to return al-Delaema to the Netherlands but is bound by it nonetheless.
Friedman allowed both sides in the case to present lengthy evidence so that the Dutch judge will have a record to review. Law enforcement officials from Amsterdam were in the courtroom monitoring proceedings, which lasted six hours on Wednesday and were to continue Thursday.
The prosecutors aired about three dozen clips from the large video collection that Dutch authorities took from al-Delaema’s home when he was arrested. They included videos of insurgent attacks in Iraq and the key to the case _ a video taken with night-vision technology late on Oct. 30, 2003.
That video shows al-Delaema and his fellow “Mujahideen from Fallujah” showing off bombs buried in the sand along the road outside Fallujah. They wear hoods to hide their identity and pray they will kill U.S. troops. Prosecutors said it’s impossible to know whether the bombs on al-Delaema’s video were detonated or killed any Americans.
Friedman said he hopes the Dutch judge will recognize that al-Delaema agreed to the 25-year sentence by pleading to one count of conspiracy to murder Americans outside the United States. He could have faced a life sentence if he went to trial.
Al-Delaema’s attorney, Robert Tucker, told Friedman that his client only agreed to the plea deal because they are confident he’ll serve less than 25 years in the Netherlands. Tucker said the United States has the most punitive sentencing laws in the world.