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Alleged bin Laden aide sentenced to life in prison in attack on guard

By Jamie Guzzardo, CNN
  • Mahmoud Mamduh Salim was an aide to Osama bin Laden, prosecutors say
  • He was awaiting trial in 2000 when he allegedly attacked a corrections officer
  • A federal prosecutor says Salim has been sentenced to life in prison

New York (CNN) -- Alleged Osama bin Laden aide Mahmoud Mamduh Salim was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for an assault on a New York corrections officer ten years ago, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

According to the press release, Salim, 52, attacked officer Louis Pepe of the Metropolitan Correctional Center on November 1, 2000, while incarcerated and awaiting trial on conspiracy charges stemming from the al Qaeda-linked bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

Salim was alleged to have attacked Pepe with the help of his cellmate and co-defendant at the time, Khalfan Khamis Mohammed. Salim allegedly made knives out of a comb and hairbrush, filled honey bottles with hot sauce and made ropes out of cloth and plastic wrap. He allegedly lured the officer into his cell, knocked him down and squirted hot sauce into his eyes. When Pepe kept resisting, Salim shoved one of his knives into the officer's eye, according to the U.S. attorney's press release states.

"As a result of Salim's vicious, premeditated attack, Officer Pepe has suffered terrible injuries and years of pain," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "Today's life sentence, which comes almost ten years after the assault, provides at least a small measure of vindication for Officer Pepe and his family."

According to the press release, Salim's motivation for attacking Pepe allegedly was the first step in a plan to then assault his attorneys and force the U.S. district judge hearing his case to appoint new attorneys for him.

In addition to being sentenced to life in prison, Salim was also ordered to pay $4,722,820 in restitution to Pepe for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost income.