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Virginia Man Found Guilty of Plot to Kill President and Aiding Al Qaeda

Update: Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was sentenced to 30 years in prison on March 29, 2006.  An appeals court changed his sentence to life in prison on July 27, 2009.

Posted: November 23, 2005

A Virginia man has been convicted of conspiring to assassinate President George W. Bush and providing material support to Al Qaeda.


Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, was found guilty by a federal jury in Alexandria on November 22, 2005, of conspiring to assassinate the president and eight other counts, including conspiring to provide material support to Al Qaeda, providing material support to terrorists, receiving funds and services from Al Qaeda and conspiracy to commit air piracy.  

Ali conspired to hijack and destroy civilian airliners, according to prosecutors, and reportedly researched nuclear power facilities in the U.S. for an Al Qaeda operative.  In his videotaped confession to Saudi authorities, which was shown to the jury, Ali said he joined Al Qaeda because he hated the United States for its support of Israel.

According to federal prosecutors, Ali was a student at the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia when he met with Zubayr Al Rimi, described as the second-ranking al Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia, between September 2002 and June 2003 to discuss assassinating President Bush.  Al Rimi, who allegedly planned a major bombing in Saudi Arabia, was killed by Saudi security forces in September 2003 during a shootout in Jizan, south of Riyadh, as they attempted to apprehend him. 


Ali, born in Houston and raised in suburban Virginia, was arrested by Saudi officials in June 2003, and held in Riyadh until he was extradited to Virginia in February 2005.  A former valedictorian at an Islamic high school in Northern Virginia, Ali also studied engineering at the University of Maryland. 

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2005 Anti-Defamation League