NEW YORK (AP) - An Arizona man convicted of helping a New Yorker join the Islamic State group in Syria was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday by a judge who said he was not the typical “true believer” terrorism defendant.
The trial was the first Islamic State group-related prosecution to occur in Manhattan federal court.
El-Gammal was convicted last year for helping Samy el-Goarany , who flew to Turkey in January 2015, and made his way to Syria. El-Gammal was arrested in August 2015, months before el-Goarany’s brother was informed that el-Goarany, a Baruch College student, was killed fighting for the Islamic State group.
During el-Gammal’s trial, defense lawyers argued that el-Goarany would have reached Syria anyway as he looked for meaning in life to erase his own feelings of inadequacy. They noted that others, including relatives, were unable to stop him from joining the Islamic State group.
When he spoke before the sentence was announced, el-Gammal told the judge that he is a “proud American.”
“I love this country,” he said repeatedly. “I ask for forgiveness and mercy.”
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