NEW YORK -- A judge sentenced the first Guantanamo detainee to have a U.S. civilian trial to life in prison Tuesday, saying anything he suffered at the hands of the CIA and others "pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror" caused by the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sentenced Ahmed Ghailani to life, calling the attacks "horrific" and saying the deaths and damage they caused far outweighs "any and all considerations that have been advanced on behalf of the defedndant." He also ordered Ghailani to pay a $33 million fine.
Kaplan announced the sentenced in a packed Manhattan courtroom after calling it a day of justice for the defendant, as well as for the families of 224 people who died in the al-Qaida bombings, including a dozen Americans, and thousands more who were injured.
Kaplan denounced the attacks and said he was satisfied that Ghailani knew and intended that people would be killed as a result of his actions and the conspiracy he joined.
"This crime was so horrible," he said. "It was a cold-blooded killing and maiming of innocent people on an enormous scale. It wrecked the lives of thousands more ... who had their lives changed forever. The purpose of the crime was to create terror by causing death and destruction on a scale that was hard to imagine in 1998 when it occurred."