Mississauga man who pleaded guilty to N.Y. terror plot deserves life in prison: prosecutors
'I want to stop having extreme turns that keep getting me in trouble,' Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy says
U.S. prosecutors are requesting a life sentence for a Canadian man who admitted to plotting terrorist attacks on New York City landmarks at the behest of a high-ranking Islamic State operative.
Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 20-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., pleaded guilty in October 2017 to planning bombings and mass shootings at Times Square, in subway stations and at concert venues while still a teenager.
"El Bahnasawy's willingness to kill innocent civilians and martyr himself for ISIS, his absolute commitment to ISIS at the time of his arrest, and his deeply disturbing conduct since then, powerfully support a single conclusion: the incapacitation of El Bahnasawy should be total and lifelong," U.S. prosecutor Geoffrey Berman said in a written submission filed to a New York federal court.
Years of substance abuse
El Bahnasawy, a Canadian citizen who emigrated from Kuwait as a child, spent several months in treatment at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto in 2014, court documents show.
"I want to experience life away from drugs and away from war and violence," he wrote. "I want a stable life and I want to stop having extreme turns that keep getting me in trouble, like my turn towards drugs or my turn towards jihad."
But Berman argued in his submission to the court that neither mental illness nor addiction justify, explain or mitigate El
Bahnasawy's criminal actions.
"If anything, El Bahnasawy's asserted instabilities and addictive tendencies only further underscore the need for a sentence of life imprisonment to protect the public from a future attack or other criminal conduct by El Bahnasawy," Berman said.
Statements supporting ISIS scrawled on cell walls
One photo of El Bahnasawy's cell walls submitted to court shows a scrawled list of high-profile terror attacks, including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, encircled by what appears to be a heart and the words, "and more coming."
El Bahnasawy began communicating online with Islamic State followers in 2015, Berman said in his submission.
El Bahnasawy recruited other purported Islamic State sympathizers to help co-ordinate and carry out the attacks, including one man who, unbeknownst to him, was an undercover FBI agent.
On May 21, 2016, under the guise of taking a family vacation, El Bahnasawy, then 18, drove to Cranford, N.J., with his parents and sisters to set the attack in motion, unaware that he was being heavily monitored by U.S. law enforcement.
He was arrested by the FBI upon his arrival.
El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty in October 2016 to multiple offences that included conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to bomb a public place and public transportations system and providing and attempting to provide material support.