A former Soviet tank commander who was convicted of leading a terror attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan was sentenced Thursday to life in prison by a court in Richmond, Virginia, The Associated Press reported.
Irek Hamidullin, who U.S. officials said had joined the Haqqani Network, a Taliban-affiliated militant group, after the Soviet-Afghan war, was found guilty in August of 15 terror-related charges.
His capture on the battlefield raised questions about his legal status, with his attorney Robert Wagner arguing that his client had committed a “lawful act of war.”
“You accuse me of terrorism. That is a lie. I am doing what Jesus Christ told us to do,” Hamidullin was quoted as saying during a court hearing, AP reported.
He went on to criticize the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and accused the government of targeting him “in order to send a message to the Russians.”
The case ultimately moved forward in a civilian court, with the judge arguing that Hamidullin wasn't a lawful combatant as the Taliban and its affiliated groups “did not adhere to the laws and customs of war.”
Hamidullin led three groups of militants in a 2009 attack on Afghan border police in Khost province.