In the letter filed to a New York court on Friday, Mississauga resident Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy asked for a second chance and bared his issues with addiction and mental health and explained that he felt American airstrikes against the Middle East drove him to jihadism.
The 20-year-old wrote that he felt that Americans were trying to disrupt the lives of people in the Middle East with airstrikes and he thought “it was appropriate to use similar methods back until and unless they stop.”
The 24-page handwritten letter, addressed to the judge in his case and partially redacted, is part of a package his lawyers submitted ahead of his sentencing for multiple terrorism-related charges that he pleaded guilty to last year.
El Bahnasawy described his disenfranchisement with western society, including “so-called democracy and freedom.”
He said he chose to go to the U.S. to carry out the plan because Canada had recently stopped its airstrikes, “and it didn’t make sense to transgress back against them in such a way.”
Police secretly arrested El Bahnasawy, then 18, in what they said was a plot by Daesh sympathizers to attack New York City concert venues, subway stations and Times Square. He was arrested after travelling from Canada to New Jersey in 2016. The records in his case were sealed for more than a year as police tried to hunt down his accomplices.
They suggested that his release might coincide with “the onset of Abdulrahman’s mid-20s when his cognitive development will be complete.”
El Bahnasawy’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 9. Apparently, his decisions made prior to his mid-20s are somehow to be discounted given his cognitive development was incomplete.