A former University of Alabama student pleaded guilty to “intent to finance terrorism” after attempting to teach an undercover FBI agent how to transfer money to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. As a result, Alaa Mohd Abusaad, 26, was sentenced on April 28 to 7-1/2 years in jail. According to the Department of Justice, the sentence was handed down in the federal court in Tuscaloosa.
Abusaad, between February and April 2018, taught an undercover FBI agent how to send money to the mujahideen (Taliban), fighters who fight for jihad (an Islamic belief). The woman told the agent that money “is always needed. You can’t have a war without weapons. You can’t prepare a soldier without equipment.”
Abusaad unknowingly advised the FBI agent to conduct wire transfers, undetected by law enforcement, using false names and addresses. She then showed him how to route the money to her “brothers working with aq” (i.e., al-Qaeda).
The former student pleaded guilty to financing terrorism in September 2019 and was sentenced on April 28 to 90 months, the equivalent of seven and a half years, in prison, followed by 10 years of probation for concealing money transfers from the U.S. to al-Qaeda.
Abusaad’s defense attorneys offered a Psychiatry report that said the young woman suffered from a major depressive disorder (MDD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), and emotional trauma that made her susceptible to committing dangerous acts online, ABC News.
The young woman, who supported terrorism, said, “At the time I was unaware of the U.S. presence in Syria, yet I acted out of ignorance without reflecting on how my actions may endanger an innocent life. I wanted to help Syrian civilians from the tyrant Assad (referring to Syrian dictator Bashar Al- Assad), but the way I wanted to help them was wrong,” she said in a letter written to the judge.
Abusaad added: “In my mind when I talked to the undercover agent, I only saw a painted picture of evil when it came to U.S. troops. I saw Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib Prison. I saw the rape, torture, and humiliation of Muslims … I projected what I saw from a few to all soldiers. I made a similar generalization with the FBI.”
Abusaad was in federal detention for the last 42 months in Shelby County Jail until she reached a plea deal in September 2019.