PHOENIX — A trial began Tuesday in the case of a Syrian man accused of supplying a component of improvised bombs used in the Iraq War, with a prosecutor saying the man had sympathized with a group that wanted to use violence to drive a wedge between Iraqis and Americans.
Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah (AL-ah-med-AL-ab-dahl-OK’-lah) is accused of making circuit boards used to remotely detonate roadside bombs in Iraq for the 1920 Revolution Brigades.
The trial is being staged in Phoenix because authorities said a part for improvised explosive devices was made by a company headquartered in Arizona.
Prosecutor Joseph Kaster told jurors in opening statements that Alahmedalabdaloklah embraced the group’s objectives to force American troops to abandon Iraq. “He shared their violent objectives,” Kaster said.
The case against the 40-year-old Alahmedalabdaloklah arose out of a raid a decade ago at a Baghdad apartment where soldiers discovered a large cache of bomb-making materials, though no explosives were found. Prosecutors say Alahmedalabdaloklah’s fingerprints were found on several items in the apartment.
Authorities said in court records that several witnesses have tied him to the production of IED components, including one person who said Alahmedalabdaloklah, after fleeing Iraq and moving to China, found a factory in China to make the circuit boards.
Alahmedalabdaloklah has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to destroy U.S. government property with an explosive, possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a violent crime, conspiracy to commit “extraterritorial murder” of a U.S. citizen and providing support to terrorists. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
Defense attorney Jami Johnson said her client never expressed any sentiments against Americans in 12 years of his emails that were reviewed by investigators. “Twelve years — and not one single anti-American statement,” Johnson told jurors.
Johnson said her client, who was brought to Iraq as a refugee when he was a child, operated a legitimate electronics shop in Baghdad and moved to China when security in Iraq deteriorated.
Johnson said Alahmedalabdaloklah set up an electronics business in China that sold products in Iraq and elsewhere but never sent any components used in a bomb.
She said her client’s fingerprints were found on his photos and documents inside the Baghdad apartment, but none of the electronics contained his prints or DNA.
Alahmedalabdaloklah was arrested in May 2011 after flying to Turkey from China. He was jailed for three years in Turkey before being extradited to the United States in August 2014.
Prosecutors have said in court papers that 1920 Revolution Brigades claimed responsibility for 230 attacks in Iraq against American soldiers from 2005 to 2010.
The 1920 Revolution Brigades was active against U.S. forces in Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq until it switched sides in 2007 to fight against al-Qaida. The group derived its name from the 1920 revolution in which Iraqis revolted against a British occupation.