Terror Supporter Gets 75 Years

Al Moayad Cleric Al-Moayad
A Yemeni cleric who bragged about his ties to Osama bin Laden was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison -- the maximum in a terrorism financing case that was nearly derailed when the government's star witness set himself on fire outside the White House.

A federal judge prefaced Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad's sentence with a recitation of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, beginning with a hijacked jet crashing into the World Trade Center.

"We all remember September the 11th," U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. said. "While the defendant is not being sentenced as a result of the events of 9/11, he came to the attention of the authorities because of 9/11."

A jury in March found al-Moayad, 57, guilty of conspiring to support and attempting to support al Qaeda and the Palestinian extremist group Hamas. He also was convicted of actually supporting Hamas, but acquitted of supporting al Qaeda.

FBI informants lured Al-Moayad to Germany in 2003 and was secretly recorded promising to funnel money to Hamas and al Qaeda. He also boasted that bin Laden called him "my sheik." He was arrested by German police and sent to the U.S.

One of the informants, Mohamed Alanssi, set himself on fire in Washington last November in what he later described as an attempt to get more money from the FBI, which paid him at least $100,000.

Alanssi recovered in time for the trial and described al-Moayad as a dedicated supporter of terrorism who boasted of giving bin Laden $20 million in the years before Sept. 11.