Judge rejects appeal from man convicted in al-Qaida plot

March 27, 2020 - 1:04 am
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge again rejected a request from a northern Virginia man who sought to overturn his life sentence for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted in 2005. He filed a motion last year seeking a new sentence, arguing that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi shows Saudi Arabia lies about the brutality of its security forces.

Key evidence against Abu Ali came from a confession he gave in Saudi custody. Abu Ali said the confession was tortured out of him by Saudi Arabia’s internal security agency. Saudi agents testified under assumed names at Abu Ali’s trial, denying any torture.

Abu Ali’s lawyer argued that Khashoggi’s 2018 killing is evidence Saudi security forces will lie about mistreatment they inflict. Saudi Arabia initially denied any responsibility for Khashoggi’s death.

In an order filed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston in Alexandria rejected Abu Ali's request. Alston said the truthfulness of the Saudi agents was an issue that was contested vigorously at Abu Ali's 2005 trial, and that the Khashoggi killing does not give Abu Ali an opportunity to re-litigate the issue.

The judge issued a similar ruling in November, but the issue was muddied slightly by technical issues over whether Abu Ali's appeal rights had been exhausted.

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