US citizen sentenced to life in Iraqi prison

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 10:48 am •  Published: October 4, 2012

BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi court has sentenced an American citizen to life in prison on charges of assisting al-Qaida and financing terrorist activities in Iraq, according to a government statement released Thursday.

The Interior Ministry said Omar Rashad Khalil, 53, was recruited by al-Qaida in Iraq in 2005. Khalil, an architectural engineer, is of Palestinian descent and entered the country in 2001, the ministry statement said.

The ministry released excerpts from a confession it said Khalil made in which he allegedly admitted to receiving money from a Syrian man in the United Arab Emirates to pay for terror attacks.

Khalil, who the ministry said was also known as Abu Mohammed, was sentenced by Baghdad's central criminal court on Wednesday. Iraqi government officials could not immediately be reached for more details.

U.S. embassy spokesman Frank Finver issued a statement saying that the embassy officials were aware of the reports. The statement did not give further details, citing privacy act considerations, and referred questions to local authorities and Khalil's attorney. Neither the embassy nor Iraqi officials identified Khalil's lawyer.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Justice Ministry said six people convicted on terrorism charges were executed on Thursday, bringing the number of executions since the beginning of this year to 102. The ministry statement had no further details and did not identify the six.

The increase in government-sanctioned executions in Iraq has raised concerns among international human rights observers about whether the defendants are receiving fair trials. Iraq has shrugged off calls to abolish the death penalty.

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