Ali Charaf Damache

Ali Charaf Damache, a dual Algerian and Irish citizen, is a convicted Islamist extremist and the ringleader of a terrorist cell that conspired to conduct attacks throughout Europe—in particular, the murder of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Change of Plea Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3759.pdf; John Mooney, “Ali Charaf Damache: how did this jihadist end up in Ireland?” The Times (UK), November 4, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ali-charaf-damache-how-did-this-jihadist-end-up-in-ireland-5crg7sc0b. Damache was responsible for recruiting, organizing, and leading the terrorist conspiracy. Among those with whom Damache conspired were Mohammad Hassan Khalid, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, and Colleen LaRose. Damache was arrested in Spain in 2015, and extradited to the United States for criminal prosecution.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Change of Plea Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3759.pdf. On October 30, 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists.“Algerian Terrorist is Sentenced to 15 Years’ Imprisonment,” United States Department of Justice, October 30, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edpa/pr/algerian-terrorist-sentenced-15-years-imprisonment.

According to U.S. court documents, Damache was a meticulous planner, actively recruiting supporters online who could fill specific roles in his terrorist cell.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Sentencing Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3851.pdf. Between 2008 and 2011, he recruited several men and women from Europe and the United States, who were willing to commit terrorist acts themselves or possessed legitimate passports enabling them to travel to and around Europe in support of terrorist acts. He also coordinated explosives training with an al-Qaeda expert in South Asia.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Change of Plea Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3759.pdf.

In 2009, Damache lured U.S. citizen Colleen LaRose (a.k.a. Jihad Jane) from Philadelphia to join him in Ireland, promising to teach her how to live as a Muslim wife and support others in violent jihad. However, she soon became disillusioned by his inability to execute on his actions and permitted the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to purchase her return flight to the United States.John Shiffman, “U.S. judge sets plea change for Algerian who recruited 'Jihad Jane'” Business Insider, July 19, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/r-us-judge-sets-plea-change-for-algerian-who-recruited-jihad-jane-2018-7. Damache also persuaded Jamie Paulin Ramirez (a.k.a. Jihad Jamie), a single mother from Colorado, to marry him and move to Ireland. While there, Damache trained her 6-year-old son in the ways of violent jihad, and Ramirez had videotaped the boy discussing his desire to shoot kuffars (non-believers).“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Sentencing Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3851.pdf; Jeremy Roebuck, “Al-Qaeda operative who recruited Montco’s ‘Jihad Jane’ pleads guilty, agrees to 15 years in prison,” The Inquirer, July 23, 2018, https://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/philadelphia/ali-charaf-damache-al-qaeda-operative-jihad-jane-colleen-larose-guilty-plea-20180723.html. She later told FBI investigators that she believes Damache misled her and used her as a sex slave.John Mooney, “Ali Charaf Damache: how did this jihadist end up in Ireland?” The Times (UK), November 4, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ali-charaf-damache-how-did-this-jihadist-end-up-in-ireland-5crg7sc0b.

Additionally, Damache directed the recruiting efforts of Mohammad Hassan Khalid (a.k.a. Abdul Ba’aree’Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hassan Al-Afghani Al-Junoobi W’at-Emiratee), a teenager from Pakistan who moved to the United States with his parents. Together, Damache and Khalid enlisted supporters to their cause and worked to assemble a terrorist cell, which was planning to train with al-Qaeda and execute attacks in the West. Khalid was also responsible for translating and posting extremist content online to incite others to violent jihad.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Sentencing Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3851.pdf.

In 2014, the three co-conspirators—LaRose, Ramirez, and Khalid—were convicted in a U.S. federal court for terrorism charges and sentenced to ten, eight, and five years in prison, respectively. Much of the evidence was based on online chatroom messages that the FBI intercepted.“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Sentencing Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3851.pdf.

Meanwhile in 2011, U.S. authorities charged Damache for “devising and organizing a violent-jihad organization consisting of men and women from Europe and the United States, and requested his extradition from Ireland.”“United States of America v. Ali Charaf Damache – Government’s Sentencing Memorandum,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 23, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3851.pdf. Irish courts, however, refused this request twice. In 2012, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that Damache’s arrest warrant was unconstitutional due to an administrative and legislative error. In 2015, the High Court denied his extradition on grounds that he may be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment if imprisoned in the United States.John Mooney, “Ali Charaf Damache: how did this jihadist end up in Ireland?” The Times (UK), November 4, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ali-charaf-damache-how-did-this-jihadist-end-up-in-ireland-5crg7sc0b.

In December 2015, Damache traveled to Spain to reportedly further his plan to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has been targeted by jihadists for his 2007 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. Damache was arrested in Barcelona and subsequently extradited to the United States for criminal prosecution.John Mooney, “Ali Charaf Damache: how did this jihadist end up in Ireland?” The Times (UK), November 4, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ali-charaf-damache-how-did-this-jihadist-end-up-in-ireland-5crg7sc0b. He pled guilty to conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on October 30, 2018. He will be repatriated to either Ireland or Algeria after serving his sentence.“Algerian Man Is Sentenced To 15 Years’ Imprisonment For Conspiring With Pennsylvania Woman And Others To Provide Material Support To Terrorists,” U.S. Department of Justice, October 30, 2018, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/3852.pdf.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Al-Qaeda
Type(s) of Organization:
Non-state actor, religious, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Jihadist, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri
Position(s):
Recruiter, ringleader of an Ireland-based cell

Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks was the deadliest ever on American soil, killing nearly 3,000 people. Since the fall of the Taliban, al-Qaeda has established operations worldwide, including in Syria, the Gulf, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

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