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NY judge sentences US terrorism defendant to life

NEW YORK (AP) — A former personal secretary to Osama bin Laden got a strong rebuke from a judge as he was sentenced to life in prison for a second time after claiming the Sept. 11 attacks were “God’s punishment” for injustice.

Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan sentenced Wadih El-Hage in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. El-Hage was convicted in 2001 of conspiracy and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison. A federal appeals court in Manhattan ordered a resentencing after El-Hage claimed the federal sentencing guidelines he was sentenced under were no longer mandatory.

Kaplan said a life sentence was necessary, in part because El-Hage — a U.S. citizen — is a “committed terrorist” who has betrayed his country.

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