WASHINGTON (AP) — A Dutch man accused of planting roadside bombs to kill American troops is expected to plead guilty in the first case prosecuted in the United States against an alleged insurgent from the war.
Iraqi-born Wesam al-Delaema, 36, was scheduled to enter the plea Thursday.
Al-Delaema traveled to his homeland after the U.S. invasion, and he and his fellow “Mujahideen from Fallujah” videotaped themselves planting remote-control explosives along a road used by U.S. troops. The explosives did not result in any deaths.
The video was widely shown on Arabic TV stations and seized by police who raided al-Delaema’s house in the Dutch city of Amersfoort in May 2005.
Al-Delaema was extradited from the Netherlands two years ago, in an agreement that said he would be tried in federal court — not by a military commission, such as those set up for terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Justice Department said at the time that it would not oppose al-Delaema serving his sentence in a Dutch prison if he is convicted.
Al-Delaema originally claimed he was innocent, saying he was forced to make the video after being kidnapped and beaten. He said he feared being beheaded if he resisted.
His attorneys originally said the United States didn’t have the right to try him. They argued that al-Delaema could be tortured by U.S. authorities and said the U.S. legal system couldn’t be trusted.
In a 2003 interview broadcast on Dutch television, al-Delaema accused the U.S. and its allies of waging war in Iraq to control its oil reserves.
“The Americans and British are coming to our country to steal oil and everyone knows it,” he said.
“I don’t care if I myself die or not. I want to offer myself up for my land, for my people. I’m not more or less important than the women and children who you see on television dying because of America,” al-Delaema said.