FLORENCE, Ariz. — An Iraqi man who once helped anti-government forces try to overthrow Saddam Hussein pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple state counts of attempted murder after authorities say he detonated a homemade explosive device outside a Social Security Administration office in Arizona in 2012.
At his arraignment in Pinal County Superior Court, Abdullatif Ali Aldosary pleaded not guilty to all 22 counts, including 14 charges of attempted first-degree murder, arson and use of explosives.
He was convicted in September in federal court and sentenced to five years in prison on three counts related to weapons possession.
Authorities said they found guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when they searched his home after the explosive was detonated outside a Social Security office in Casa Grande on Nov. 30, 2012.
Aldosary, 48, isn’t allowed to own firearms because of a previous felony conviction.
Prosecutors said the attempted-murder charges stem from 14 employees who were inside the building at the time of the explosion. No one was injured in the blast.
In yet another state case, Aldosary is charged with murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two firearms counts in the Nov. 27, 2012, shooting of a 26-year-old man at the Arizona Grain processing facility in Maricopa, about 35 miles south of Phoenix.
Aldosary also was employed there for a time. Authorities have not released a motive in either the bombing or the killing and have declined to discuss whether they were related.
Clad in a red prison jumpsuit with short sleeves and his hands and feet shackled, Aldosary stood with his head slightly bowed as a judge ordered him held without bond and scheduled an April 21 pretrial conference.
Although no decision has been made by the county attorney’s office, Judge Dwight Callahan said the case is a capital matter in his opinion, meaning Aldosary would be eligible for the death penalty if found guilty at a trial.
Aldosary, a Coolidge resident, came to the United States legally in 1997 from his home country of Iraq.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to felony aggravated harassment charges. He was sentenced to two months in jail and three years of probation, but he was later ordered to serve a year in prison.
Aldosary had sought help from U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s office in 2011 in obtaining permanent residency. Gosar has said he contacted Homeland Security, which responded in a letter that Aldosary’s case had been put on hold “pursuant to the terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility” under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Authorities say he was denied a green card because he fought with anti-government forces trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 1991 in Basra, Iraq.