A video maker for Osama bin Laden who vowed that al-Qaida will never stop fighting America was sentenced to life in prison Monday for encouraging terrorist attacks.
A jury of nine military officers deliberated for just under an hour before condemning Ali Hamza al-Bahlul at Guantanamo's second war-crimes trial. Al-Bahlul was convicted of 35 counts of conspiracy, solicitation to commit murder and providing material support for terrorism. The military has not said where he will serve his sentence.
The 39-year-old Yemeni defiantly admitted joining al-Qaida, accused the U.S. of oppressing Muslims for 50 years and said “we will fight any government that governs America.”
Al-Balhul called the military tribunal a “legal farce” and refused to mount a defense. His Pentagon-appointed lawyer stayed silent during the trial, refusing to even answer questions from the judge.
The lead prosecutor, Army Maj. Daniel Cowhig, said al-Balhul has shown no remorse or regret.
“When will it be safe for this man to leave confinement? Never,” Cowhig said.
Al-Bahlul was not accused of participating in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but prosecutors and witnesses said he was so close to bin Laden that he hooked up a satellite receiver so the pair could hear live radio coverage of the attacks.
Prosecutors said he also acknowledged to interrogators that he was al-Qaida's media chief, made propaganda videos that inspired terrorists to attack the U.S., and arranged for lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta to swear a loyalty oath to the al-Qaida chief.
Al-Bahlul was brought to Guantanamo in 2002.