PHILADELPHIA: An Al Qaida suspect linked to a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist intends to plead guilty to terrorism charges in Philadelphia, according to court documents filed on Thursday.
Ali Charaf Damache is scheduled to admit his guilt before US District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker in a hearing Monday, prosecutors told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A message seeking comment from Damache’s attorney, Noah Gorson, wasn’t immediately returned on Thursday.
Damache had previously pleaded not guilty to charges he was involved in a terror cell that wanted to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks. The plot never materialised.
He was brought from Spain to Philadelphia in 2017 to be tried in a civilian court despite President Donald Trump’s promise to send terror suspects to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Known as The Black Flag, Damache was accused of seeking out light-skinned women and others who did not fit the traditional terrorist profile. His targets included Colleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” online” Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a single mother from Colorado” and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who at the time was a high school honours student from Maryland. They were all eventually arrested.
Damache married Paulin-Ramirez the day she travelled to Ireland to meet him in 2009. Paulin-Ramirez eventually helped the FBI investigate the terror cell.
Officials said that Damache’s group recruited men online to wage jihad in South Asia and Europe, and sought to recruit women with western passports to travel through Europe in support of the cause.
LaRose is serving a 10-year prison term. Paulin-Ramirez and Khalid have been released after serving their sentences.