PHOENIX — A decade ago, military police raiding a Baghdad apartment during the Iraq War discovered bomb-making materials that authorities say contained the fingerprints of a Syrian man now accused of making a key component for improvised explosive devices for a jihadist group that attacked American soldiers.
Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah (AL-ah-med-AL-ab-dahl-OK’-lah) is accused of making circuit boards used to remotely detonate IEDs for the 1920 Revolution Brigades, which has claimed responsibility for 230 attacks in Iraq against American soldiers from 2005 to 2010. Authorities have described Alahmedalabdaloklah as being involved in the research and development for making such bombs.
His trial on federal conspiracy charges is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Phoenix, where the case is being heard because authorities say Alahmedalabdaloklah got components for a wireless initiation system used in IEDs from a company headquartered in Arizona. The indictment doesn’t provide the company’s name, and authorities have declined to identify the firm.
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.
Gregory Bartolomei, one of his attorneys, didn’t immediately return a phone message and email seeking comment Thursday.
Alahmedalabdaloklah’s lawyers previously criticized the federal government’s allegation that their client provided parts used to kill four U.S. soldiers and wound four others during two attacks in Baghdad in 2007. Defense attorneys maintain there’s no evidence connecting Alahmedalabdaloklah to those explosions.
Prosecutors said they expected to show the circuit boards recovered from the two blasts matched those found in a cache linked to Alahmedalabdaloklah.
Authorities say 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.
Investigators also said a senior leader with the 1920 Revolution Brigades ordered IED components from Alahmedalabdaloklah and transferred money to his bank account in China.
Prosecutors say Alahmedalabdaloklah’s fingerprints were found on several items in the Baghdad home and that the apartment functioned as a bomb-making factory. The IED cache there was described as one of the largest found during the war. Items that contained his prints included documents, a lid to a power meter and a piece of electrical tape that was wrapped around an IED switch, prosecutors said.
Cosme Lopez, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, which is prosecuting Alahmedalabdaloklah, declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Alahmedalabdaloklah wasn’t at the apartment during the raid.
He 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.
His attorneys have made several unsuccessful attempts to get his case dismissed, including their argument that the U.S. intentionally delayed bringing him to America, violating his right to a speedy trial.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver required prosecutors to say why the Baghdad explosions in April and May 2007 are relevant, considering the government has conceded it won’t argue Alahmedalabdaloklah designed the circuit boards from both blasts.
Prosecutors responded that they won’t use both explosions as examples of acts that furthered the conspiracy. But they want to call an expert to testify that the circuit boards recovered from the explosions matched those found in the cache.
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.