Morocco man pleads guilty to helping al Qaeda


A used car dealer in Kansas City, Missouri, pleaded guilty to providing support to al Qaeda by sending about $23 500 to the militant group, the US Justice Department said.

Khalid Ouazzani, 32, a naturalized US citizen from Morocco, was accused of swearing allegiance to al Qaeda in 2008 and using money from a commercial loan as well as the sale of his business to give to the group in 2007, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also said he had spoken with other unidentified people about ways to support al Qaeda, including plans for them to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia at the group’s request.
“It was a part of the conspiracy that Ouazzani and co-conspirators would and did discuss various specific ways they could support al Qaeda, including providing currency, advice and assistance to al Qaeda,” court papers said.

Ouazzani also pleaded guilty to money laundering and bank fraud, the prosecutors said. He faces up to 65 years in prison without parole and up to $1 million in fines.
“He deeply regrets what he has done, and is taking steps to atone, to the extent he can, for his crimes,” his lawyers Robin Fowler and Tricia Tenpenny said in a statement.

Al Qaeda has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and has been blamed for orchestrating the devastating attacks against US embassies in Africa and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

In April 2007, Ouazzani obtained a $175 000 loan for his business, but instead used some of it to buy an apartment in the United Arab Emirates with an unidentified co-conspirator. They later sold the apartment and he directed $17 000 in profit to go to al Qaeda, according to the Justice Department.

Additionally, in August 2007, he agreed to make a $6500 contribution to al Qaeda, the department said. Court records showed he swore an oath to the militant group in June 2008.

Ouazzani was arrested in February.