Man charged in death of Davenport soldier pleads guilty in Federal Court

Published: Mar. 6, 2018 at 11:09 AM CST
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A man charged with the killing of five soldiers, including Cpl. Jason Pautsch of Davenport has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder US nationals in a Federal Courtroom in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Faruq Khalil Muhammed 'Isa has been in custody since 2011 and was extradited to the US in 2015 where he's been in and out of federal court.

That charge he pleaded guilty to today comes with the agreed upon sentence of 26 years in federal prison, then extradition to Canada, where he is originally from.

United States District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf accepted the guilty plea but reserved her decision stating she wanted to hear from the victim's families and additional filings on both sides.

Pautsch's brother Jake and sister Jenna were in court Tuesday for the hearing.

Muhammed Isa is also charged with five counts of murder, but only pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Murder US Nationals. If the guilty plea is agreed upon, the five charges of murder will be dropped, according to a Federal Court Public Information Officer.

The plea agreement itself is sealed, so exact details of the agreement itself are not readily available.

Court documents say Muhammed 'Isa was a leader of a Tunisian terrorist network and instructed suicide bombers to carry out attacks in Iraq.

One suicide bomb killed five soldiers, including Cpl. Jason Pautsch of Davenport, at the Froward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq on April 10th, 2009.

Muhammed 'Isa was charged with murder of those five soldiers and with facilitating a terrorist network. Court documents say he did that from his home in Edmonton, Canada.

Documents say a truck filled with explosives drove to the gate of that base and exchanged fire with Iraqi police officers and then with an American convoy leaving the base.

The truck detonated alongside the last convoy vehicle, leaving a 60-foot crater in the ground.

The five killed were Staff Sergeant Gary L. Woods, 24, of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky; Sergeant First Class Bryan E. Hall, 32, of Elk Grove, California; Sergeant Edward W. Forrest Jr., 25, of St. Louis, Missouri; Corporal Jason G. Pautsch, 20, of Davenport, Iowa; and Army Private First Class Bryce E. Gaultier, 22, from Cyprus, California.

"Jason was like the glue that held the family together, he was the lubricant," his father David Pautsch told KWQC on Memorial Day of 2017. "With his absence, it's created a certain amount of tension and conflict."

David does find hope in the fact that Jason is in a better place.

"He gave his life but he's much better off than all of us," David said with a smile. "He's in heaven. Not because he deserved it but because he had received forgiveness for his sins."

Even though the plea agreement is sealed, the Eastern District of NY sent us this transcript from Peter Baldwin speaking to United States District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf in court today:

“Your Honor, the government would like to note that certain victim family members are present in Court today. Seated in the gallery are Jacob and Jenna Pautsch, who are the brother and sister of Corporal Jason Pautsch.

We would also like to reiterate that the government has met, in person, with members of the families of each of the five victim service members to discuss the terms of the proposed agreement.

With his guilty plea, the defendant is being held to account for his role in a conspiracy to assist suicide bombers enter Iraq in 2009. While no amount of jail time can make up for the loss of a family member, the government believes that the agreed-upon sentence provides a fair and just resolution to the very serious charges brought against the defendant. This resolution will serve to punish and deter others, while also requiring the defendant to admit his participation in these heinous acts.”