Sentences – Appeals – News ,
FYI, By the way the latest from Laila Yaghi, mother of Ziyad Yaghi
O.K so Ziyad is back in Florida and to all the people who promised to write him, here is his address:
Ziyad Yaghi (51771-056)
USP Coleman 2
P.O Box 1034
Coleman, FL 33521
Some of the news items below is sensationalized for maximum affect on the readers, to prove a vague conspiracy against unknown persons in an unknown place at an unknown time, and extremely enhanced punishment. To say the least these proceeding and cases have been very disappointing.
For those that ask: Daniel Boyd has not yet been sentenced. We are waitingto see the outcome of this affair.
We know that Allah is the All-Merciful and All-Just and His Mercy and Justice is completely absolute and totally perfect.
Most of the cases against them is about some foolish youthful hubrus, ranting and raves on Facebook, etc. The prosecution cherry picked items out of thousands of entries but then the defense was not allowed to show many other items that would prove the opposite – this was just one example of an insane, biases approach to bring to trial, and “judge” the case. Indeed Americans should be outraged at the travesty of justice executed under their name and which is said to be done to protect their interests. Whose interests did you say? What is occupy Wall Street and K street, and Tahreer Square etc all about?
By these standards, most of the US stand up or sit down comedian, most all of the hip hop singers, all of the Aryan brothers and various other local radical “Militias” and various other ethnic groupings, and hosts of talk shows, and many other Americans should all go to harsh prison terms under enhanced sentences to give ’em the proper respect of the law, and stop them from speeching out and up.
The double standards of this case and scores of other case eerily similar – with indefinite detentions entrapment, preemptive prosecution, enhanced sentencing etc – are evident of a deeply troubling proclivity to exaggerate the crimes and misdeeds of some for racial, class and religiousness reasons, while underplaying or avoiding entirely the crimes and misdeeds of some others. Indeed sometimes crimes are even deemed heroic, or at least swept under the proverbial rug if they serve their purpose and please the “powers that be” and their long term strategic goals.
But as we all know or should know, God Almighty is the Ultimate Judge who will bring back all people to judge all deeds with His Perfect knowledge, Justice and Mercy.
See about FBI entrapment tatcic with Muslims
from New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice,
report: “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat
Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI ‘entrapment’ questioned
Critics say bureau is running a sting operation across America, targeting vulnerable people by luring them into fake terror plots > HERE
prisoner profiles and actions
For More on these cases and these type of cases, see
Project SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims)
About Project SALAM – Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims
Following 9/11 the FBI and Justice Department indicated that they were operating under a new paradigm of preventing terrorist attacks before they occurred. This paradigm suggested that charges could be brought against people who they suspected might commit crimes in order to obtain convictions before any crimes actually occurred. Such prosecutions seem in fact to have occurred and it appears that completely innocent Muslims have been convicted and sent away for long prison sentences based only on suspicion and concocted charges. In this web site we propose to examine the US post-9/11 terrorism prosecutions and determine whether in each case there was substantial evidence of criminality or simply evidence unfairly concocted and/or twisted to convict innocent Muslims.
Tactics Used in Prosecution
We also propose to examine the tactics and strategies of the prosecution in these cases to determine if the government, in their effort to obtain convictions against Muslims, has stretched legal concepts beyond the point where a fair trial is possible, and is unfairly damaging communities. These tactics include:
- The use of secret evidence and secret court opinions
- The use of “agent provocateurs”/ “informants” who agitate in the Muslim community leading to the conspiracy arrest of everyone who did not notify the FBI about the agent’s provocative conduct. These “informants” are either criminals spared long prison sentences and deportation for their help, and/or are paid large sums of money by the government.
- The use of pending immigration applications to coerce Muslims into giving false testimony against members of their community
- The use of staged press conferences and pre-trial publicity that hype unfounded and sensational terrorist allegations in order to scare communities, damage the reputation and credibility of Muslims, and influence the jury pool. Often after the damage is done, the pre-trial terrorist hype of the prosecution is shown to be completely wrong, unwarranted or greatly overdone
- The use of strategies for intimidating juries into believing that the defendants are real terrorists by excessive security, by insisting on anonymous witnesses and/or jurors, and by constantly referring in trials to “9/11” and to known terrorists such as “Osama bin Laden” even where these references are legally irrelevant to the charges.
- The use at trial of bogus experts who are not independent scholars, and who make a living by simply parroting the government’s theory in case after case.
- The practice of opposing, often successfully, attempts by the defense to introduce experts to explain the political and religious realities of the Muslim community, while the government is allowed to present their own extremely distorted views in this regard.
- The use of translators who are not independent and give the most one sided pro-government translation of foreign words out of context.
- The practice of routinely charging defendants with lying to the government based on unrecorded interviews, often conducted under extreme pressure, where it is essentially the agent’s word against the defendant’s.
- The practice of incarcerating Muslims together in prisons designed to restrict their interaction with the outside world (Communication Management Units (CMU)), and to restrict their religious practices while in prison. This includes severe limitations on family visits to non-contact visits which requires family members to see each other only through a plate glass window and to talk to each other only on a telephone.
- The use of extensive surveillance, including illegal warrantless wiretapping, to monitor targets and their associates, including their attorneys.
- The use of extremely complex or vague charges and legal instructions which confuse the jury.
- The use of charges of “material support for terrorism” which the government has said can be used against anyone who donated to or did anything for a particular group, even if the donor had no knowledge that the group was considered terrorist by anyone
- The excessive and inappropriate use of Conspiracy charges and the use of guilt by association to smear those who have innocent contacts with known or suspected terrorists, and to link innocent people with each other in an alleged criminal association, using one against the other. > see HERE
Posted: December 20, 2011
Brothers sentenced to prison for roles in NC terror ring
NEW BERN, N.C. — Two North Carolina men were sentenced to prison Tuesday for their roles in a home-grown terror cell that prosecutors say plotted attacks under their father’s leadership.
Dylan “Mohammed” Boyd, 25, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison, while Zakariya “Zak” Boyd, 22, was sentenced to nine years. They both pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
In addition to their prison time, Zak Boyd was fined $3,000, and Dylan Boyd was fined $1,000. Both will get credit for the more than two years they have spent in jail since their arrests.
Defense attorneys blame their involvement in terrorist activities on their father, Daniel Patrick Boyd, and his radical Muslim views. Daniel Boyd pleaded guilty in February to two counts of conspiracy and is still awaiting sentencing.
The brothers tearfully apologized for their actions, causing family members in the New Bern federal courthouse to weep.
“I look forward to being able to right the wrongs of my past actions,” Zak Boyd said.
“My future will be one of productivity, positivity and amends,” Dylan Boyd said.
They faced up to 15 years in prison, but prosecutors agreed to more lenient sentences. They noted that Zak Boyd had been very cooperative in the federal investigation of the terror cell, including convincing his brother to plead guilty, and that Dylan Boyd was less involved in the group’s activities than others and actually challenged his father’s beliefs on occasion.
Prosecutors, defense attorneys and family members all declined to comment after the court hearing.
The Boyds and four other Triangle men were arrested in July 2009 on charges that they plotted terrorist actions against overseas targets. A federal indictment said they raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained in preparation for jihadist attacks.
Three of the others – Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 23, Ziyad Yaghi, 22, and Hysen Sherifi, 26 – were convicted in October and are awaiting sentencing. The seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, has yet to be tried.
Authorities believe another man charged in the case, Jude Kenan Mohammad, 22, is in Pakistan. A ninth member of the group, Bajram Asllani, 30, was arrested in Kosovo last year, but the U.S. doesn’t have an extradition treaty with that country.
Three men sentenced in North Carolina terrorist ring
- Men are part of eight-person ring, authorities say
- Leader pleaded guilty in February but hasn’t been sentenced
- Two discussed attacking Marine base in Virginia
Washington (CNN) — Three men received sentences Friday ranging from 15 to 45 years for their roles in a homegrown terrorism ring based in North Carolina.
Hysen Sherifi, a native of Kosovo and a legal permanent resident of the United States, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Ziyad Yaghi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, got almost 32 years. The two men were convicted in October of plotting to kill people overseas and of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism. Sherifi also was convicted of conspiring to kill a federal officer or employee and of two firearms charges.
The third man, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism. All three are in their 20s and had pleaded not guilty.
The men were part of a ring that prosecutors said was thought to comprise eight people. The leader, Daniel Patrick Boyd, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to kill people overseas and of material support for terrorism. He has not been sentenced.
Sherifi and Boyd had discussed attacking the Quantico, Virginia, Marine Corps base. According to prosecutors, Boyd was a convert to Islam who had received training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Boyd recruited and trained others to go overseas and undertake violent jihad. According to the indictment charging the men, they believed that such violence was an obligation and decided “should their efforts to fight jihad overseas prove impossible, jihad would take place here in the United States.”
The indictment said that from November 2006 through July 2009, Boyd conspired with the others to provide material support to terrorists. That included money, training, transportation and manpower.
Boyd and most of the others were arrested and charged in July 2009. Two of his sons, Zakariya and Dylan Boyd, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism this year and received sentences of nine and eight years, respectively.
Anes Subasic, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is awaiting trial in North Carolina. The eighth suspect charged in the case is Jude Kenan Mohammad, a U.S. citizen who authorities say is believed to be at large in Pakistan.
In April 2010, a ninth man was charged in what previously had been known as an eight-person conspiracy. Bajram Asllani, a resident of Kosovo, was charged with conspiracy to kill people overseas and to provide material support to terrorists. The government alleges that Asllani solicited money from Boyd and the others to establish a base of operations in Kosovo to carry out violent jihad. He is reportedly at large in Kosovo.
3 Muslim men to be sentenced in N.C. terrorism case
Thursday, January 12, 2012 – Added 22 hours ago
RALEIGH, N.C. _ Three young Muslim men are scheduled to appear in federal court Friday, facing the possibility of the stiffest sentences ever in a North Carolina case of what prosecutors have described as “homegrown terrorism.”
Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 22; Ziyad Yaghi, 21; and Hysen Sherifi, 24, are set to be sentenced Friday in the same New Bern courthouse where a jury convicted them in October. They were found guilty of taking part in a plot to attack unspecified targets overseas, a plan that also mentioned targeting the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.
The men face possible life sentences.
But the starkness of their potential punishments contrasts sharply with the murkiness of their crimes. The men were convicted of conspiring, not acting, in terror schemes that never played out in the United States or abroad.
Yaghi’s mother, Laila Yaghi, said, “My son is facing a life sentence for doing nothing. How did he get convicted for doing nothing?” Defense attorneys for the men say their clients are victims of a mentally unstable older man who, in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, targeted impressionable youth to bolster his persona.
That man, Daniel Patrick Boyd, 41, a drywall hanger and the alleged leader of the so-called homegrown terror cell, struck a deal with prosecutors. He agreed to testify against any of the accused who went to trial in exchange for dismissal of some of the charges against him.
He awaits sentencing in a case where two of the eight men indicted have not been tried or entered pleas. One is a fugitive, believed to be overseas. The other awaits trial.
Two of Boyd’s sons, Dylan and Zak, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy charges. After testifying in the October trial as part of a plea arrangement with prosecutors, the Boyd brothers were given sentences of eight and nine years.
Attorneys for Yaghi, Hassan and Sherifi argue the Boyds were far more involved than their clients with the elder Boyd and his plans. The defense attorneys say their clients should not suffer harsher sentences simply because they exercised their rights to a trial rather than striking a plea arrangement.
Prosecutors contended at trial last year that Yaghi, Sherifi and Hassan were part of a terror cell rooted in Johnston County that traveled overseas, raised money and trained with weapons to support a jihadist plot to kill perceived enemies of Islam.
But their defense attorneys and Yaghi’s mother present a different scenario.
None of the witnesses at the three-week trial, defense attorneys contend, implicated their clients in having much to do with Daniel Patrick Boyd’s broad but unrealized plans, captured on tape by FBI informants.
Yaghi and Hassan did travel overseas in 2007, to Jordan, where Yaghi was born.
Though prosecutors contend those trips were efforts to make contact with others to commit terror abroad, Laila Yaghi described the trips quite differently.
“My son went to look for a wife,” she said.
Laila Yaghi and defense attorneys describe Ziyad’s involvement with Boyd as brief.
“Yaghi was a young 19-year-old boy when he was targeted by Daniel Boyd,” his attorney, James M. Ayers II, wrote in a document arguing for a lenient sentence. “He was fatherless, young and impressionable. He had no paternal support or leadership and was taken with Boyd’s stories of Afghanistan. Many in the community were taken with the stories and imposed upon Boyd a heroic persona. … There clearly was an overreach by Boyd of the youth. Boyd bolstered his own persona at the direct expense of his family and children. He was and remains a nightmare.”
Laila Yaghi says that nightmare has haunted her for three years .
“I don’t understand, honestly, how this happened,” she said. “This whole thing is about how the prosecutors played with the jury’s mind.
As prosecutors played FBI tapes of Daniel Patrick Boyd talking about training for and waging jihad, they held up pictures of her son.
Ziyad Yaghi has been in federal prison in Virginia since his conviction. His mother describes her son as a peaceful man who got angry once when she tried to kill ants in the kitchen.
“He still tells me he doesn’t understand how this happened,” Laila Yaghi said. “He’s angry that Boyd testified against him and lied. He’s angry that he’s facing a life sentence and he did not do anything.”
(c)2012 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
US judge: 15- to 45 years for 3 men convicted in terror ring that plotted jihadi attacks
By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, January 13, 5:20 PM
3 men in NC terror ring get 15-45 years in prison
Published January 13, 2012
| Associated Press
NEW BERN, N.C. – Three members of a home-grown terror ring who conspired to attack the Quantico U.S. Marine Corps base and foreign targets were sentenced Friday to between 15 and 45 years in federal prison.
Hysen Sherifi, 27, will serve 45 years in prison; Ziyad Yaghi, 23, got nearly 32 years; and Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 24, was sentenced to 15 years. They faced the possibility of life in prison. Each said they would appeal their convictions and claimed innocence. Dozens of members of Raleigh’s Muslim community made the five-hour round-trip to coastal New Bern to witness the hearing for the men who supporters believe were unjustly convicted.
Defense attorneys argued for lesser sentences since the men were convicted of discussing terrorism rather than committing terrorist acts.
“I believe I am innocent. There was no conspiracy,” said Serifi, who called his guilty verdict unfair and prosecutors tyrants.
But U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan said the men went beyond talk to planning violence.
Yaghi was a “self-starter” in pursuing holy war against those deemed un-Islamic and brought several potential jihadi recruits to ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd, whose rural Johnston County home was a warehouse of weapons, Flanagan said. Yaghi traveled to Jordan and Israel to look for avenues to join other militants and to scout targets for an attack.
Sherifi discussed an attack on the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base with Boyd, a Muslim convert who had lived on the base as a child with his Marine officer father.
Hassan used his Facebook account and Internet forums to post his own comments and videos by others encouraging Muslims to fight nonbelievers and Muslims who did not agree with their desire to establish mandatory religious law, prosecutors said.
Hassan also attempted to contact Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim preacher and al-Qaida propagandist, and emailed a co-conspirator a copy of Al-Awlaki’s tract “44 ways to support Jihad,” Flanagan said. Al-Awlaki was killed by an American airstrike in September in the mountains of Yemen.
“You willingly became part of the Internet propaganda machine that is a canker on this world,” Flanagan said. “You were prey, and a component, of something that was incredibly harmful and destructive.”
The trio is among eight men who federal investigators say raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained in preparation for jihadist attacks. The plot “had a specific purpose — to inspire others to adhere to radical Islam and if you did not you were fair game,” prosecutor Jason Kellhofer said.
Hassan called his actions stupid, but not a crime.
“I did post some highly inflammatory things on the Internet, but I am no terrorist,” he said. He rejected Flanigan’s sentence, and his father, Aly Hassan, accused the judge and prosecutors of targeting Muslims.
“You’re prosecuting Islam. The judge should be sitting here with the government,” Aly Hassan said, pointing to the prosecutors.
Yaghi was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism and conspiracy to carry out attacks overseas. Sherifi was convicted of both crimes, two counts of firearms possession, and conspiracy to kill federal officers or employees for plotting the Quantico attack. Hassan was convicted of providing material support to terrorists, but acquitted of a charge of conspiracy to carry out attacks overseas.
Boyd pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in February and has yet to be sentenced. Two of his sons pleaded guilty to similar charges and were sentenced to eight years and nine years in prison.
Another defendant, Anes Subasic, is set to be tried separately, while an eighth indicted man is at large and believed to be in Pakistan.
Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio
Young US Muslims face sentencing for material support conspiracy so vague, government can’t even say what terrorists they intended to support
A trip to the Middle East made by Ziyad Yaghi and Omar Aly Hassan was the focus of terrorism-related charges against the two North Carolina men.
Yet is is clear they went for marriage prospects and to see the Arab countries, their place of ethnic origin, and the heartland of the Muslim peoples.
This Friday 23-year-old Ziyad Yaghi and his co-defendant, Omar Aly Hassan, also 23, both convicted terrorism-related charges, will be handed down sentences for conspiring to provide material support to unspecified terrorists and, in the case of Yaghi, conspiring to harm unspecified persons abroad.
The case, which seems to be largely off the radar for major civil liberties groups and national Arab and Muslim organizations, raises questions about the use of preemptive prosecution to get convictions in the vast majority of domestic terrorism cases. The government’s case also largely focuses on speech made by the defendants, and rests on the testimony of paid undercover informants.
Conspiracy against unknown persons in an uknown place at an unknown time
The US government alleges that Yaghi and Hassan conspired with alleged ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd to provide material support to an unspecified group of terrorists in an unspecified place at an unspecified time. They were also indicted — and Yaghi convicted — for conspiracy to kidnap, kill, maim or harm an unspecified group of people in an unspecified place at an unspecified time.
The US government alleged in a 2009 indictment that Yaghi and Hassan traveled to Israel in 2007 to meet up with Boyd and one of Boyd’s sons, Zakariya, for the purpose of waging “jihad” — what that specifically entailed was not detailed in the indictment.
After the Israeli government denied entry to all four men, Yaghi and Hassan traveled to Jordan and later Egypt. The Boyds traveled to Jordan, where they were met by Daniel Boyd’s other son, Dylan, but did not meet with Yaghi and Hassan there.
Upon their return to the United States approximately one month later, Yaghi and Hassan apparently ceased contact with the Boyd family.
During the men’s trial last September, an FBI agent admitted upon cross-examination by Hassan’s attorney that the government had no evidence of contact between Hassan and Boyd after the 2007 trip.
Dylan Boyd, who testified for the prosecution as part of a plea agreement, told the FBI in an interview that he “hadn’t seen or spoken to Yaghi and Hassan since the 2007 trip.”
It was revealed during the trial that the Boyd family had been under surveillance since 2005, and Yaghi and Hassan had been monitored starting around the time of their 2007 trip.
Lesser charges, but greater sentence?
The most serious and specific of all of the charges related to the case were dropped from the counts against alleged ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd — conspiracy to attack a US Marines Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi were indicted for conspiring to murder US military personnel; the charge against Boyd was dropped as part of his plea agreement, while Sherifi was convicted of the charge.
The other co-defendants were not indicted for the alleged Quantico plot. Daniel Patrick Boyd faces 15 years in prison and a life sentence for the remaining conspiracy charges.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Boyd’s sons received lesser sentences after cooperating with the prosecution:
Zakariya Boyd, 22, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison and Dylan, 25, was sentenced to eight years. Each had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, which carried a maximum of 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine. Both received lesser sentences after cooperating with prosecutors, including credit for the jail time already served since their arrests in July 2009.
The judge overseeing the case said she may revisit the Boyd sons’ sentences, “depending on their contributions to the prosecution” in the separate trial of a seventh defendant, Anes Subasic. Subasic is being tried separately because he is representing himself.
While the prosecution dropped the most specific of all of the conspiracy charges as part of Daniel Patrick Boyd’s plea agreement, the jury found Yaghi and Hassan guilty for conspiring to provide material support, though the government did not identify which terrorist groups they intended to support.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Prosecutors named no targeted victims. Nor did they specify places, times or dates of attacks,” except in the case of Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi, whom were indicted for the alleged Quantico plot. “The elder Daniel Boyd had visited the base, and he and Sherifi had discussed its vulnerability to an attack on Marines and their families,” the paper added.
Amongst the evidence presented by the government to demonstrate the defendants’ criminal intent included weapons training said to have been conducted by Daniel Patrick Boyd, who upon his arrest was found to have amassed “a stockpile of nearly two dozen guns and 27,000 rounds of ammunition seized from a bunker under Daniel Boyd’s home,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The FBI testified that Sherifi participated in weapons training with Boyd and his sons in the weeks prior to their arrests, the Capitol Broadcasting Company reported.
Yaghi and Hassan were not indicted for any weapons-related charges. As the Los Angeles Times reported, the government had gathered “750 hours of audio and video that included conversations between the defendants and three paid FBI informants; in those conversations, the defendants discussed jihad and their hatred for non-Muslims.”
However, defense lawyers argued, the audio and video evidence “did not show the defendants discussing or agreeing to any specific attack.”
The Los Angeles Times reported upon the conclusion of testimony, “Defense lawyers reminded the jury that all three Boyds testified that the defendants did not conspire to attack people or provide material support to terrorists.”
So not even the Boyds, whose cooperation with prosecution would likely be rewarded with lesser sentences, said that Sherifi, Yaghi and Hassan were involved in the conspiracies that the Boyd family members pleaded guilty to.
The Los Angeles Times added:
The FBI recruited three informants, code-named Jawbreaker, Hammerhead and Crosstown, who secretly taped conversations with the defendants.The defendants spoke in emails of wanting to kill non-Muslims; they exchanged bloody Al Qaeda videos; and they shared CDs containing diatribes by Anwar Awlaki, an Al Qaeda leader killed by a US drone strike in Yemen last month. One video showed a live beheading by terrorists.
Dan Boyce, representing Omar Aly Hassan, “said the defendants’ comments about jihad, no matter how offensive, were protected as free speech. Similarly, shooting at targets — a popular pastime in rural North Carolina — is protected by the 2nd Amendment, he said.”
Prosecuting on the basis of First Amendment speech?
The question of whether circulating “pro-jihadist” material makes someone a “terrorist” was raised during the trial of Tarek Mehanna of Massachusetts. Civil liberties organizations raised concerns that prosecuting Mehanna for providing a service to US-designated terrorist groups because he posted material on the Internet was a violation of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Civil libertarians argue that no matter how offensive someone’s speech is, it shouldn’t be the basis for prosecution.
Indeed, after the North Carolina men were indicted in 2009, a federal judge expressed skepticism about the charges. CNN reported that ”Magistrate Judge William Webb said the men made a number of statements espousing holy war that could be interpreted in isolation as empty boasting.”
Webb said the government’s case depended partly on an “unnamed, unidentified and uncharacterized” witness who had interpreted what the government said was coded speech by the suspected terrorists.The government says, for example, that one defendant’s statement about “going to the beach” meant he intended to conduct violent jihad.
“You’re asking me to believe ‘beach is the functional equivalent of ‘jihad,’” Webb said.
Use of paid undercover informants under question
The FBI’s use of paid informants also came under question during the trial.
The Capitol Broadcasting Company reported in September that an FBI informant, a Muslim of Moroccan descent who goes by the code name “Jawbreaker,” was paid $110,000 by the FBI since 2005. The informant had gained a residency card after overstaying a visa and remaining in the US illegally, defense attorneys noted.
Robert McAfee, Sherifi’s attorney, also blamed Jawbreaker for thrusting his client and Boyd together. The informant used FBI money to pay for Sherifi to return to the US from Kosovo, where he was living his wie and child, McAfee said.
According to the CBC, Omar Aly Hassan’s attorney, Daniel Boyce, told the jury that FBI had tried to turn his client into an undercover informant in the case, but Hassan turned them down, “saying he didn’t know enough about Boyd and his family to help.”
Ziyad Yaghi’s mother, Laila, alleges that after her son’s arrest, the FBI questioned her and said that they had arrested Ziyad to put pressure on him to inform on Boyd. Laila Yaghi told me over the phone that she believes that her son was persecuted for not giving the FBI information on Boyd. She also said that those who testified against Ziyad were paid informants or were intimidated into cooperating with the FBI.
The Los Angeles Times finds that the North Carolina case is not exceptional when it comes to pre-emptively prosecuted “homegrown terrosim” cases:
Based on the results of a recent study of domestic Islamic terrorism cases, the three Muslims from the Raleigh, N.C., area are fairly typical of other Americans charged or convicted of jihadist terrorism in the post-Sept. 11 era.For instance, 184 of the 188 terrorism cases studied involved no actual attacks.
The study, released in March by the New American Foundation and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Policy, looked at the 188 cases of American citizens or US residents charged in jihadist terrorism plots in the US since Sept. 11. The study’s opening sentence asks: “How real is the ‘homegrown’ Islamic terrorist threat?”
Of the four cases that did progress to attacks, the worst was at Ft. Hood, Texas, where Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is suspected of killing 13 people and wounding 32 in 2009.
(By comparison, the study points out that 73 people were killed in hate crimes in the US between 2001 and 2009 — and more than 15,000 slayings are committed in this country every year.)
A third of the 188 cases involved the use of an informant, the study found.
The conviction of Omar Aly Hassan and Ziyad Yaghi raises important questions about preemptive prosecution:
Should two young men be subjected to criminal trials and lengthy sentences for alleged conspiracy plots so nebulous that the intended victims of the plot were not yet identified?
Does preemptive prosecution protect public safety, or do convictions rely on prosecuting people (particularly Arab and Muslim people) based on First Amendment-protected speech?
Should the testimony of paid informants — who often have criminal backgrounds, whose testimony is rewarded with perks like citizenship papers and expunged criminal records — determine whether someone walks free or spends the rest of his life in prison?
Life sentences for young US Muslims convicted of vague terrorism conspiracy by “sleeping” jury
Submitted by maureen on Sat, 01/14/2012 – 20:46
“I think Islam has been on trial,” said Nevine Elsheikh yesterday after three young USMuslims were handed down long sentences in a federal court in North Carolina. The men, all between the ages of 23 and 27, were found guilty of terrorism conspiracy-related charges in a case that raises questions about preemptive prosecution in domestic terrorism cases.
Defense attorneys for Omar Aly Hassan, Hysen Sherifi and Ziyad Yaghi urged the judge to consider minimum sentences because the government’s case rested on testimony from paid undercover FBI informants and immature posts some of the defendants made on Facebook and other Internet forums. No specific act of harm was identified in the indictment.
Even so, all three received nearly maximum recommended sentences. Omar Aly Hassan was sentenced to 15 years (in his case, the maximum sentence) with credit for the two and a half years he has already served; Kosovo native Hysen Sherifi was sentenced to 45 years and may face deportation upon release; and Ziyad Yaghi was sentenced to 380 months, or approximately 31.5 years. The men have 14 days to appeal the convictions.
“Corrupted ideology the substance of conspiracy”
The case against the three is part of a pattern of preemptive prosecution of domestic terrorism cases, in that defendants are prosecuted before any act is actually committed. In this case, all of the defendants were convicted of conspiring to provide material support to an unspecified group of terrorists in an unspecified place at an unspecified time, and Sherifi and Yaghi were convicted for conspiracy to kidnap, kill, maim or harm an unspecified group of people in an unspecified place at an unspecified time.
“There has to be a specific crime,” said Robert McAfee, the defense attorney for Hysen Sherifi, an immigrant from Kosovo who faced life imprisonment for the five charges that a jury convicted him of after a one-month trial last September.
Goverment prosecutors throughout the day’s hearing insisted that the conspiracy the defendants were guilty of was “invoked in an attempt at pursuing a twisted version of Islam … that entailed instituting Sharia law,” and “violence against anyone they determined non-Muslim.”
US trial attorney Jason Kellhofer emphasized the perceived ideology of the defendants, saying in the case of Omar Aly Hassan that “corrupted ideology was the substance of the conspiracy,” and its purpose was to “institute Sharia law” and “rid the world of non-Muslims.”
Amongst the evidence that prosecutors used against Hassan was an email he sent to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen who was extrajudicially executed in a US drone strike in Yemen last year. The government said that he was a senior talent recruiter and advocate for al-Qaida. His 16-year-old son, also a US citizen, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen two weeks later.
Kellhofer argued that Hassan’s endorsement on Internet forums of videos of Iraqis resistingUS troops in Falluja demonstrated Hassan’s intent. He stressed that Hassan’s view of the conflict in Iraq was that “those Iraqis fighting Americans were simply freedom fighters,” and this was evidence of his desire to influence or affect government by violence or coercion.
US District Judge Louise Flanagan referenced Hassan’s prior criminal history for assault and marijuana charges in her sentencing assessment, and stated that Hassan “willingly became involved in the Internet terrorist propaganda machine that is a great canker in this world” by posting videos sympathetic to “mujahideen” fighting US forces.
Dan Boyce, Hassan’s defense attorney, meanwhile insisted that “What we heard at trial was witness after witness” and a “plethora of evidence” which shows that Hassan “was not an integral part in that conspiracy” to which a co-defendant, Daniel Patrick Boyd, pleaded guilty.
Throughout the day’s hearings, defense attorneys insisted that Boyd, who the government identified as the ringleader of the alleged conspiracy, was mentally ill and preyed on easily manipulated youth, and that the defendants had at various times cut off contact with Boyd.
When Boyd’s home was raided in July 2009 federal agents found a stockpile of weaponry, which Boyd had acquired legally, as well as material advocating “jihad.”
Boyd faced the most serious and numerous charges of all the defendants, though the most severe and specific conspiracy charges involving an alleged plot to attack a US Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia were dropped in the plea deal. Though he cooperated with the government in their prosecution of Hassan, Sherifi and Yaghi, Boyd testified that none of the three were implicated in any conspiracy with him.
Boyd’s two young sons, Zakariya and Dylan, aslo pleaded guilty and received reduced charges in exchange for cooperation with the US prosecutors. They were sentenced to eight and nine years in prison, and the judge presiding over the case stated she would review their sentencing pending their cooperation in the prosecution of a seventh defendant, Anes Subasic, later this year.
Daniel Patrick Boyd is to be sentenced following Subasic’s trial.
Hassan maintained his innocence in a statement he made before the court yesterday, saying “I was 19 years old when I met Daniel Boyd … I did make mistakes in my life, I did say some dumb things … but I am no terrorist.”
When he was read his sentence, Hassan exclaimed, “I deserve 15 years? What did I do?” Meanwhile, his family members reacted by crying and his father asserting that the judge should be sitting with the government prosecutors.
“I’m not a terrorist”
Defense attorney McAfee stated during Sherifi’s hearing that the alleged Quantico plot was Boyd’s creation, and that the only conversation about Quantico was made between Boyd and an undercover FBI informant.
“Only by mentioning my client’s name is he drawn into it,” McAfee said after reminding the court that the surreptitiously recorded conversation between Boyd and the informant was cut off when Sherifi approached the two men.
In a statement he made before the judge handed down a sentence, Sherifi stated “I’m not a terrorist … it is sad and unfair that the jury were inattentive and sleeping.”
Maintaining his innocence, he said he was charged with conspiracy and not extreme ideology, but it was his perceived ideology that was the center of the government’s case.
“‘Jihad’ means to strive for something. It’s obeying Allah,” Sherifi said. “It’s clear I don’t have that ideology that jihad means killing.”
He added that he broke with Boyd upon his return from Kosovo, where he had been living with his wife and young child. Referring to the selective recordings made by undercover agents admitted as evidence during the trial, Sherifi said, “They entrapped me to come back to this country, but they wouldn’t give me [access to] those tapes.”
“I just want to go back to my family and my people [in Kosovo],” Sherifi added.
Facebook posts “evidence” of conspiracy
Meanwhile, Jim Ayers, defense attorney for Ziyad Yaghi, emphasized that his client was not on any of the 700 hours of FBI recordings related to the case.
Countering the judge’s assertion that Yaghi was “conspiring to commit terrorist acts aimed at the kuffar or non-Muslims,” Ayers insisted that “there’s got to be something to show there’s an act” that Yaghi has committed. The government focused on posts Yaghi made on his Facebook wall, such as “If you’re munafiq, im a kill you,” which the US attorneys said was evidence of Yaghi’s intention to harm non-Muslims.
Yaghi stated during the hearing that Boyd admitted there was no conspiracy implicating him, adding that he “spent less than 24 hours with Boyd and [I’m] facing life. I don’t think that’s justice, I don’t believe that’s fair.”
In addition to posts Yaghi had made on Facebook, government prosecutors pointed to a 2007 trip to the Middle East that Yaghi made with co-defendant Omar Aly Hassan when both were 19 years old as evidence that Yaghi had gone to find “the battleground” for waging “jihad.” The government said the two were intending to meet with Daniel Patrick Boyd and Zakariyah Boyd in Israel but all four men were denied entry by the Israeli authorities.
Hassan and Yaghi traveled to Jordan, as did the Boyds, where they were later joined by Dylan, but the Boyds did not meet with Hassan and Yaghi in Jordan. Hassan and Yaghi disassociated themselves from the Boyds after returning to the US approximately one month later.
The government attorneys claimed and the judge upheld that Yaghi maintained contact with Boyd through a third party, Jude Kenan Mohammad, who is wanted by the US government but remains at large and is believed to be in Pakistan.
In his statement during his hearing, Yaghi said that he was not tried by a “jury of my peers,” as there were no Muslims on the jury, who were comprised of twelve individuals who have “no understanding of my religion or culture.”
Yaghi, whom the judge noted had a prior criminal record and a troubled family life as a child, stated that he maintained his innocence “and will do so til the very end.”
Supporters of the defendants packed the courtroom in the morning and afternoon. Most had made the 300-mile round trip from Raleigh to the coastal town.
“We were hoping for the minimum but expecting the maximum because of the trend” of high conviction rates in preemptive prosecution cases, said Mahen Khan, a friend of Omar Aly Hassan.
Khan said that some members of the Muslim community had been chilled by the case, but “The more they stay away from these cases, the more they’re going to be affected by them.”
He remained optimistic, however, adding that despite the chilling effect the case had on the community, there had been “increasing attendance throughout the trial.”
Commenting on the Catch-22 situation regarding the high rate of conviction in preemptive prosecution cases, Khan added, “Many people in these cases, they plead guilty to get a lighter sentence, whereas when people plead innocent, they can get a life sentence.”
During his statement before the judge read him his sentence, Sherifi referenced murder cases in which people had committed actual harm but were not identified as “terrorists” and received much lighter sentences than those Sherifi and his co-defendants were facing.
“It’s clear that this is all about ideology,” Sherifi told the judge, adding, “the reason we were oppressed, killed and terrorized [in Kosovo] was because of our religion, and I’m seeing that same thing over here, your honor, and this is very unjust.”