The first Iraq insurgent to be charged in the United States pleaded guilty today in federal court, admitting that he conspired to kill Americans in that country.
Wesam al Delaema, 36, pleaded guilty to charges that he "participated in a conspiracy… to murder nationals of the United States in Iraq" from October 2003 until his arrest in May 2005.
As part of his plea agreement, al Delaema also admitted that he created a "how-to recruitment video" and "filmed the effects of roadside attacks." Additionally, he "possessed video images of himself and his co-conspirators documenting their intentions to kill Americans in Iraq" and carrying out their activities, including prepping roadside bombs around Fallujah, Iraq.
Al Delaema, a Dutch citizen who was born in Iraq, has agreed to a 25-year prison term, under a deal that will allow him to return to the Netherlands to serve out his sentence.
Court documents say he traveled from the Netherlands to Iraq in October 2003 with a group that called themselves the Mujahideen from Fallujah.
Dutch law enforcement arrested him in May 2005 during a raid on his home where it found videotapes of insurgent attacks and operations in Iraq.
According to court documents filed in the case, on one of the recovered videos, al Delaema and another unidentified insurgent demonstrate how to hide improvised explosive devices or IEDs along a road.
In the video transcript, al Delaema says, "The operation will be carried out, if Allah wills, today, and if they come."
"This is not the first operation we carry out," he says. "We have executed several operations and most of them were successful."
Al Delaema also says on the videotape, "The American Army wouldn't admit to casualties. Their casualties have gone beyond our imagination. In Fallujah alone, they lost hundreds."
The court documents also say that once he returned to his home in the Netherlands, al Delaema continued to obtain videos and images of fighting in Iraq for propaganda purposes.
Al Delaema was extradited to the United States from the Netherlands in 2007 to face charges in the United States. In recent weeks his defense attorneys attempted to find out if U.S. intelligence officials had obtained information about al Delaema from the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program.
Justice Department prosecutors have asserted that they were not able to respond to the inquiry.
Al Delaema, who appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman, stood before the court with his hands behind his back wearing an orange prison jumpsuit as he listened to the judge's instructions for entering the plea through a translator. He spoke to the judge in broken English.
Al Delaema also agreed to plead guilty next week to assaulting a prison guard at a Washington, D.C. jail in December 2007. In that incident, al Delaema allegedly kicked the guard until he lost consciousness.
He has agreed to serve a concurrent 18-month sentence for that offense, the Justice Department said.
In a statement after the hearing, Matthew Olsen, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said that the guilty plea "is the culmination of the first prosecution in the United States charging terrorist activities in Iraq. Al Delaema now faces justice for his efforts to orchestrate roadside bomb attacks against our men and women serving in Iraq."
The court scheduled al Delaema's sentencing for April 15.