A one-time Osama bin Laden aide convicted in the 1998 African embassy bombings was resentenced Tuesday to the same life term he received in 2001 after asserting that 9/11 and superstorm Sandy were God's punishments of New York for his unfair treatment.
Wadih el Hage, who had been a leader in al-Qaida's East African cells in the years before the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that his May 2001 conviction triggered almighty wrath that September and again last October.
"Then came down God's severe and swift punishment on this district, on this town for this injustice, and the whole town came down on its knees," said el Hage, 52, near the end of his 35-minute diatribe in federal court in Manhattan. "This is God's punishment for this severe injustice."
A naturalized citizen who returned to the United States in 1997, el Hage was never tied to the actual planning of the embassy bombings the next year. But he was convicted of conspiracy for helping lay the groundwork in an organization dedicated to killing Americans.
El Hage's initial life sentence was overturned when the Supreme Court held that federal sentencing guidelines were not mandatory. A married father of six, he occasionally choked up as he insisted he wasn't part of the embassy plot, and recited both the Koran and a litany of perceived injustices that included being advised by his lawyers not to testify in 2001.
But the judge was unmoved. "You sir are a committed terrorist who has betrayed your country," he said. "I think it is quite likely you would continue to engage in terrorist acts against this country to your last breath if ever you were released."