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Dutchman Faces US Iraq Charges

"The goal (in collecting DNA samples) is to gather more evidence to prove the charges," said U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor.
by Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Washington (UPI) Jan 29, 2007
The first man to ever face U.S. criminal charges for his part in the Iraq insurgency was arraigned in federal court Monday. Iraqi-born naturalized Dutchman Wesam al-Delaema, 32, was extradited from The Netherlands over the weekend after U.S. prosecutors agreed he would not face the death penalty and could serve his time in a Dutch prison.

Federal authorities "worked very closely with our Dutch partners to build this case," U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor told United Press International after the arraignment. Taylor said his prosecutors were "experienced in putting together these kinds of complex, multi-jurisdictional cases."

Delaema was indicted in the District of Columbia in September 2005 for conspiring to kill U.S. forces by attacking convoys in Fallujah, Iraq.

The evidence against him includes video recordings that he allegedly made -- and allegedly urged others to make -- of roadside bomb attacks against U.S. forces.

Monday, the U.S. District Court in Washington gave prosecutors permission to obtain DNA swabs from Delaema, so that they could be compared with a database of DNA obtained from bomb fragments and "other physical items" recovered from attack scenes and other terrorist sites.

The database is compiled by the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center -- a multi-agency effort between the U.S. Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies which functions as a repository for all kinds of forensic evidence from terror attacks in Iraq and elsewhere.

According to court filings, the center "conducts a full range of forensic and technical analysis on such items, utilizing analytical protocols that include photography, latent fingerprint analysis, trace evidence (hair and fiber), DNA, electronic and cryptographic analysis, and tool marks."

"The goal (in collecting DNA samples) is to gather more evidence to prove the charges," said Taylor.

According to the indictment and other court documents, Delaema was arrested May 2005 in the Dutch city of Amersfoort. One report at the weekend said Dutch authorities had been originally been tipped to Delaema by U.S. intelligence, and the court documents say Dutch police monitored telephone conversations he had with people in Iraq.

European counter-terrorist officials have broken up several networks recruiting and making travel arrangements for European Muslim extremists who want to go to fight the U.S. military in Iraq.

So-called graduates of such networks are especially feared by U.S. counter-terrorism officials because of their operational experience and that fact that with European passports, they can easily travel to the United States without a visa.

The documents say Delaema, who was born in Fallujah, returned there in October 2003, driving in his 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 him and his associates as "The Mujahedin of Fallujah."

Delaema and his associates also videoed themselves demonstrating how to bury improvised explosive devices under the road, and set them off with remote controlled detonators. On the video, they discussed separating charges by 50 feet or more, so as to strike more than one vehicle in the target convoy, the documents say.

The videotapes and other video recordings were seized at his apartment.

In the telephone conversations Dutch authorities monitored "with various individuals, known and unknown, in Iraq," after his return, "Delaema encouraged other individuals to videotape attacks against the Americans and to provide Delaema with the videotapes."

He also "promised to provide camera equipment to an individual in Iraq" so that attacks could be filmed.

His prosecution will likely cast a spotlight on the shadowy networks that distributes, on the Web and via DVD, video of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

The indictment charges Delaema with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (which under federal law includes large explosive devices); conspiracy to use explosives against U.S. government property; possession of explosives during a crime of violence; conspiracy to possess explosives during a crime of violence; and teaching or demonstrating the making or use of explosives to further a crime of violence.

Because the indictment does not link the attacks Delaema conspired in to any actual deaths, the maximum penalty he faces under federal law if convicted is life imprisonment, the Justice Department said in a statement at the time.

Netherlands Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes told CNN over the weekend that U.S. officials had guaranteed Delaema would not be handed over for trial as an enemy combatant by military tribunal, and would not face additional charges -- effectively guaranteeing he would not face the death penalty.

European law generally prohibits extradition where the defendant might face execution.

"The offenses for which Delaema is charged were not death (penalty) eligible," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd told UPI in an e-mail Sunday evening. "We also agreed in our extradition request not to object to Delaema serving his sentence in the Netherlands."

Source: United Press International

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