Psych exam ordered for man accused of threatening military

CLEVELAND — A federal judge has ordered a man charged with soliciting people to kill members of the military to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
Cleveland.com reports (http://bit.ly/29c333x ) that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ordered the evaluation Monday after 23-year-old Terrence McNeil appeared to laugh when the judge told him he could face life in prison if convicted of solicitation of a crime of violence and threatening military personnel.
Authorities say McNeil posted online the names and addresses of more than 100 military personnel and asked people to kill them on behalf of the Islamic State group. He was indicted in December.

Minnesota’s Somali-Americans Urge New Treatment for Would-Be Terrorists

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ordered three young men accused of plotting to travel to Syriato fight for the Islamic State kept in detention while awaiting trial, at least for now. That decision came after the defense argued that entrusting the men immediately to their families and Somali-American leaders was the best way to insulate them from radical Islam.

But United States District Judge Michael J. Davis, in a shift from what other federal judges have done in similar cases involving young people accused of being Islamic State recruits, signaled a willingness to revisit his decision in the coming months.  “This is way too important for us to treat it as a regular criminal case,” Judge Davis said at the end of the third hearing. “It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.”

But some Muslim leaders here are trying to make a different case: that the best way to push young people away from militant Islamic groups is to keep them engaged with their community, with responsible clerics and their relatives.  Such an approach, they say, would be a humane counterpoint to the terrorist narrative that the American justice system is anti-Muslim and strictly punitive.

Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)
Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)

French comedian to go on trial for supporting terrorism

French comedian Dieudonné Mbala to stand trial for allegedly condoning terrorism via Facebook. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)
French comedian Dieudonné Mbala to stand trial for allegedly condoning terrorism via Facebook. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)

French comedian Dieudonné Mbala has been charged with condoning terrorism following a Facebook comment in which he expressed support for Ahmedy Coulibaly, the gunman who took hostages at a kosher supermarket and killed five people.

While in court Dieudonné stated: “of course I condemn the attacks without any restrain and without any ambiguity.”

He angered French officials after posting a statement online which read: “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” after thousands marched in Paris under the slogan “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Dieudonné was arrested January 14.

Following Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve’s request that authorities investigate the comedian’s remarks, Dieudonné responded that he was being “treated as a public enemy when all he wanted to do was make a joke.”

Many see his arrest as a violation of free speech and an example of the government’s double standard.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland said “The case has raised new questions about French values of freedom, equality and fraternity.” Dieudonné could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. In addition to the recent allegations he already faces already other charges after being convicted for inciting anti-Semitism.

“He is currently involved in several trials here, on charges ranging from slander, to incitement of racial hatred, to condoning terrorism. In all cases, he denies the charges,” an Al Jazeera correspondent said.

Jury chosen for US terror trial of Egyptian imam

April 14, 2014

 

A jury was chosen Monday for the federal trial of an Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Great Britain on charges he conspired to support al-Qaida, setting the stage for the second major terrorism trial in Manhattan in two months.

Eight men and four women will hear evidence in the government’s case against Mustafa Kamel Mustafa after opening statements Thursday. The trial comes weeks after a jury convicted Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith of charges stemming from his role as al-Qaida’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. He likely faces a life sentence.

The 55-year-old Mustafa also will face a life sentence if he is convicted of conspiring to support al-Qaida by trying in 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., by arranging for others to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and by ensuring there was satellite phone service for hostage-takers in Yemen in 1998 who abducted two American tourists and 14 others. Four hostages were killed.

The white-haired Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, turned London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s into a training ground for Islamic extremists, attracting men including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges of inciting racial hatred and encouraging followers to kill non-Muslims, Mustafa was brought to the United States for trial in fall 2012.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/jury-to-be-picked-in-ny-trial-of-egyptian-preacher/2014/04/14/5e07ffd2-c392-11e3-9ee7-02c1e10a03f0_story.html

Bin Laden’s son-in-law convicted of conspiring to kill Americans

March 26, 2014

 

NEW YORK — In a quick decision, a jury convicted Osama bin Laden‘s son-in-law of conspiring to kill Americans in his role as the angry voice of Al Qaeda after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Sulaiman abu Ghaith, 48, faces life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 8.

The case has given the public its first and possibly only chance to watch a terrorism trial related to the 2001 attacks unfold in civilian court. Unlike other high-profile terrorism suspects accused of crimes arising from the attacks, Abu Ghaith bypassed the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after his arrest last year.

Instead, he was brought directly to New York, where his trial began March 5 just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

The case hinged in part on the importance of Abu Ghaith’s role as a spokesman for the terror group. Prosecutors maintained it was an important one.

“This man was not Osama bin Laden’s puppet,” said Jonathan Cronan, an assistant U.S. attorney, as he pointed his finger at Abu Ghaith during the trial “He was not a robot.

But Abu Ghaith’s defense attorney, Stanley Cohen, dismissed the government’s case as based not on evidence but on recordings and videos, including one showing hijacked jets slamming into the World Trade Center towers and the buildings enveloped in black smoke.

“It was intended to sweep you away … in anguish and pain,” said Cohen, comparing the prosecution’s case to a movie.

“The movie’s over, the lights are back on, and we’ve walked out of the theater. Let’s look at the evidence,” he said, before dismissing the government’s allegations as “speculation” and its witnesses as liars or frauds.

Also shown repeatedly to the jury during the trial were frames of a video made Sept. 12, 2001, that showed Abu Ghaith seated next to Bin Laden and two other top Al Qaeda leaders as they tried to justify the attacks.

Jurors deliberated roughly five hours before convicting Abu Ghaith of conspiring to kill Americans, providing material support to terrorists; and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-ghaith-convicted-20140326,0,5107319.story#ixzz2yEGRhJtQ

Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

March 19, 2014

 

NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law offered a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, recounting during surprise testimony Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom how the two met that night in a cave in Afghanistan.

“Did you learn about what happened … the attacks on the United States?” the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden asking him.

The testimony came as Abu Ghaith’s trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group took a dramatic turn. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden seemed worried that night and asked what he thought would happen next. Abu Ghaith said he predicted America “will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden responded: “’You’re being too pessimistic,’” Abu Ghaith recalled.

Abu Ghaith said he wasn’t involved in recruiting aspiring terrorists and denied allegations that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

His lawyers said they were hopeful that another part of Abu Ghaith’s testimony, that he had met self-professed Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, would cause the federal judge overseeing the trial to reconsider his decision to exclude Mohammed from testifying via videotape from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-al-qaida-spokesman-to-testify-at-new-york-trial/2014/03/19/2b2b3a5a-af71-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

Jury Selection Begins at Trial of Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law

March 4, 2014

 

In the days and weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, a Kuwaiti-born cleric, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, became a familiar figure in propaganda videos for Al Qaeda, appearing in some with Osama bin Laden, and other times alone, issuing blistering threats against the United States.

“The storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm,” he said in one speech, a federal indictment charges. Mr. Abu Ghaith, who later married Bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, was captured last year and brought to the United States on terrorism charges. His trial started on Monday in Manhattan with jury selection which resumes on Tuesday morning. He is the most senior Bin Laden adviser to be tried in a civilian court since the Sept. 11 attacks, experts say.

“Abu Ghaith held a key position in Al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” George Venizelos, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in New York, said last year. Unlike Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Abu Ghaith has not been accused of having advance knowledge of the attacks or being involved in terrorist operations. But prosecutors portray him as a trusted adviser and confidant of Bin Laden’s, and they believe he was probably aware of the plot in which Richard C. Reid tried unsuccessfully to blow up an airplane on a trans-Atlantic flight by detonating explosives in his shoes.

The trial, coming more than four years after the disputed and since abandoned plan to try Mr. Mohammed in Manhattan, may further the debate over whether international terrorism cases should be tried in civilian court.
Mr. Abu Ghaith, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support for terrorists; if convicted, he could face life in prison. The New York Police Department declined recently to discuss any security measures related to the trial, which is expected to last about a month. “This is a high-profile case,” Stephen Davis, the department’s top spokesman, said, “and we’ll take the necessary steps to ensure safety in and around the courthouse and the city.”

At least two men who had been involved in terrorism who are now cooperating with the authorities are expected to testify for the government against Mr. Abu Ghaith. They are believed to be Saajid Badat, who had agreed to carry out a shoe-bomb attack but later backed out, and Sahim Alwan, a member of the “Lackawanna Six,” a group of Buffalo-area Yemeni-Americans.
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/nyregion/bin-laden-relatives-trial-may-fuel-debate-over-trying-terrorism-cases-in-civilian-courts.html?action=click&module=Search&_r=0
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/nyregion/bin-laden-aide-began-qaeda-propaganda-day-after-9-11-us-says.html?action=click&module=Search&gwh=677A49224F0D0A3EC6B79A8BBC5455C8&gwt=regi

The FIFA permits the wearing of the headscarf; the wrath of French football

March 1, 2014

 

The option to wear the headscarf or turban has officially been approved within the practice of football, the FIFA announced on March 1st. At the request of certain Muslim countries, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which handles legal aspects of football, had agreed to a tentative trial allowing the headscarf on strict conditions two years ago. The headscarf question had become more prominent in recent years, with Iran having gone as far as pressing charges against the FIFA because its female players, prevented from covering their heads, had to forgo the London Olympics in 2012.

 

The French president of the FIFA, Jerome Valcke, said during a press conference that a trial had been undertaken and ‘a decision has been made: female players can have their heads covered while playing.’ The Board saw no valid reasons to ban it if strict conditions are met. The headscarf must be tightly fitted around the player’s head, be coordinated with the player’s uniform, not be attached to the maillot, must not have any loose parts, and must not constitute a danger to the player nor to others.

 

However, if the new authorization of head-coverings is valid for the whole world, it does not mean that it will be applied everywhere.

 

Two years ago, the Federation Francaise du Football (FFF) had  banned its players from wearing the headscarf, ‘in order to respect the constitutional precepts of secularism’ in France. The FFF reiterated that the principle of secularism remained valid including in regards to the participation of French selections in international competitions, and upheld the prohibition on all religious signs in the country.

 

The President of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), Frederic Thiriez, deplored the ruling as a ‘grave mistake.’ ‘I regret the decision of the FIFA which undermines the principal of universality of football in which all players, male and female, are supposed to be subject to the same rules and match conditions. Whereas the Olympic chart bans all religious symbols, this decision goes against women rights and threatens the neutrality of football that is safe from religious and political conflict.’

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/sport/article/2014/03/01/la-fifa-autorise-le-port-du-voile-colere-du-foot-francais_4376137_3242.html

Dutch Court Releases Two Men in Pending Syria Case

February 4, 2014

 

A court in the Netherlands has released two young men from custody, pending their trial. The two men (aged 26 and 21) were arrested in Germany in August, allegedly en route to Syria to fight in the civil war. The public prosecution claims this means the men were preparing to take part in terrorist attacks. The two have been allowed out of jail pending their trial for plotting terrorist offences, but must remain in the Netherlands.

Dutch News – http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/02/two_men_released_from_jail_pen.php

Muslim woman will not testify after being told she must remove face veil

January 27, 2014

 

A Muslim woman standing trial in a full-face veil, who was told she must remove it if she gives evidence in her defence, will not take to the witness box, a court has heard. Rebekah Dawson, 22, has been allowed to appear at her trial for alleged witness intimidation in a niqab showing just her eyes. The trial judge, Peter Murphy, ruled last September that she could wear the Islamic garment in court but he said she would have to let the jury of five women and seven men see her face if she gave evidence.

Her barrister, Susan Meek, told the jury at Blackfriars crown court in London on Monday that she would not be giving evidence in her own defence.

Earlier in the trial, Murphy told the jury that Dawson was “fully entitled” to dress how she chose to in court. He told jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about her appearance because they would have nothing to do with the case.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/27/muslim-woman-face-veil-court-trial-witness