KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City auto parts dealer who had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking part in a conspiracy to provide financial support to the terrorist group.
Khalid Ouazzani, 32, a Moroccan native who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006, admitted that he sent $23,500 to al-Qaeda between August 2007 and mid-2008.
Although Ouazzani talked with others about ways to support al-Qaeda, including plans for them to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia, U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said he did not pose a threat to the Kansas City area, where he briefly operated a business that sold auto parts and used vehicles.
"At no point prior to his arrest was he any threat to cause imminent harm or danger to the citizens of our community," Phillips said at a news conference.
He pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of bank fraud from an original indictment charging him with 33 counts. He also pleaded guilty to an additional count of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Ouazzani became a permanent U.S. resident in July 2004 and became a citizen about two years later.
Prosecutors said he provided false information to obtain a $175,000 line of credit commercial loan in April 2007 to run his business, Truman Used Auto Parts.
In May 2007, he wired $112,830 of the loan to a bank account in the United Arab Emirates, where it was used to purchase an apartment. In June or July 2008, he sold the apartment for a $17,000 profit, which was sent by a co-conspirator to al-Qaeda, court records say.
In August 2007, he agreed to send al-Qaeda an additional $6,500 through a co-conspirator, who paid the money on his behalf, and in November 2007 Ouazzani repaid the co-conspirator through a wire transfer to a bank account in the United Arab Emirates, court records show.
Phillips said the $6,500 came from the sale of his business.
She declined to comment on the co-conspirator or say how long Ouazzani had been in Kansas City prior to his arrest.
Ouazzani's attorneys said he was sorry for his actions and was ready to pay the consequences.
Ouazzani has "acknowledged the wrongfulness of his acts," Overland Park, Kan., attorneys Robin Fowler and Tricia Tenpenny said in a statement.
"He deeply regrets what he has done, and is taking steps to atone, to the extent he can, for his crimes. He will continue to do so," the statement read. They declined to provide further details.
Ouazzani faces up to 65 years in prison without parole, prosecutors said. No sentencing date has been set.