Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a Falls Church man and a member of al Qaeda who admitted he was planning to assassinate then-President George W. Bush, was sentenced to life in prison Monday at federal court in Alexandria.
Abu Ali was originally sentenced in 2005 to 30 years in prison.
U.S. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the U.S. District Court for eastern Virginia ruled Monday that Abu Ali should spend life in prison partially because he never renounced his al Qaeda ties.
After the initial sentencing, both sides filed appeals. Abu Ali completed some of his sentence in solitary confinement at a Supermax prison in Colorado, where, his lawyers said, he suffered from physical and mental trauma.
Abu Ali's lawyers, Ashraf Nubani of McLean and Joshua L. Dratel of New York, argued the original sentence was too harsh.
U.S. attorneys argued that Abu Ali's sentence was not long enough, given he "knowingly and willfully committed extremely serious offenses jeopardizing the national security of the United States," a government statement says. "Given the nature of the defendant's offense and the intended consequences, the government submits that few cases present a more compelling argument for a life sentence."
The 28-year-old was born in Houston, lived most of his life in Alexandria, graduated valedictorian from the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County and planned on joining al Qaeda for years, court documents show.
He finally joined the group while in Saudi Arabia in 2002.
" 'It was decided that I would go [to the United States] and live a normal life [overtly] to keep attention away from me, marry a Christian woman, and at the same time I would prepare as best I could for operations,' " Abu Ali said in his written confession.
He emulated Mohammed Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, key players in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the documents show.
While in prison, Abu Ali requested "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams of My Father," both books by then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, but was refused them.
A Bureau of Prisons notification states " ... the referenced pages contain information which have been determined to be potentially detrimental to national security," according to court documents.