A Kansas City businessman who pleaded guilty more than three years ago to providing financial support to al-Qaida was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Khalid Ouazzani faced up to 65 years in prison for bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to support a terrorist group.
Prosecutors sought 15 years in federal prison while defense attorneys asked for five years, saying he had completely cooperated with investigators and regretted his actions. Ouazzani pleaded for mercy from Judge Howard Sachs. In his eight-page letter, Ouazzani said he was "a total loser" to do what he did, and spoke about how much his actions had hurt his family.
After serving his prison sentence, Ouazzani will remain on probation for five years.
He has already served 44 months in prison, which will count toward his sentence.
He also must make about $485,000 in restitution on the bank fraud charges. The vast majority of the money, if repaid, will go to two banks.
In his plea bargain, Ouazzani admitted making false claims to borrow money for a used auto parts business and wiring the proceeds to a bank in Dubai. That money was used to purchase an apartment that later sold for a $17,000 profit, which was given to al-Qaida. Ouazzani also admitted sending the terror group $6,500 from the sale of his business.
Prosecutors say Ouazzani swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida. His ties to terrorists became highlighted during a congressional hearing in which it was claimed he was part of a plot to bomb Wall Street.
The sentencing hearing lasted three hours.
Defense attorneys were upset that their client's cooperation didn't get him a reduced sentence while U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson was pleased.
"A lot of damage, a lot of lives could have been lost with $23,000," she said. "And however that money was supplied or what it was intended for, it was sent to the enemy. The enemy's sworn purpose is to cost lives and cause devastation to the American people."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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