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It has snared a Manhattan defense lawyer, a Florida professor, the “American Taliban,” six in New York, four in Detroit, and, just last week, former Intel Corp. software engineer Maher “Mike” Hawash. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 30 people have been hit with a charge of providing material support to terrorists or terrorist groups, a crime that carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. Material support encompasses far more than providing money; it also includes almost any provision of goods, services, training or personnel. The material support statute was enacted in the 1996 Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and amended in the 2001 Patriot Act to increase the penalties. So far, four defendants have pleaded guilty and a North Carolina jury has convicted one man, who now faces 155 years in prison. In the war on terror, the Justice Department makes “no distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly support terrorist organizations,” DOJ official Alice Fisher told Congress in March. The broadly worded material support statute, she added, is one of the “most powerful tools against terrorist financing” and “allows law enforcement to act early, during the stages of planning and development, rather than waiting for terrorist attacks to occur.” Defense attorneys involved in material support cases say prosecutors wield the statute as an inducement for defendants to plead out. “What the government is doing in all of these cases is they ratchet these things up as high as they can,” says one defense lawyer. “They threaten them with life in prison, and that makes 30 years and cooperating with government investigators look good.” The DOJ may be trying to further strengthen the bite of the material support statute. The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity recently revealed a draft of DOJ legislation entitled “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.” The act authorizes the executive branch to revoke U.S. citizenship for anyone convicted of providing material support to terrorists. The Justice Department said that the legislation was being discussed “at a staff level.” The following is a roundup of cases in which the government has levied material support charges against terror suspects. � Maher “Mike” Hawash. Hawash has been in jail since March 20. Originally detained as a material witness in ongoing terrorism investigations, Hawash, 39, was charged last week with conspiracy to wage war against the United States and with conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida and other U.S.-designated terrorist groups. According to the indictment, Hawash joined the so-called Portland Five in a failed attempt to join al-Qaida and Taliban forces fighting off the U.S. invasion in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Alleged co-conspirators Jeffrey Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, Ahmed Bilal, Muhammad Bilal and Habis Al Saoub go on trial in October. Hawash’s defense attorney, Stephen Houze, did not respond to calls, nor did the Portland U.S. Attorney’s Office. � Lynne Stewart. Stewart is the iconoclastic New York defense attorney known for representing unpopular clients, including Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and several accused terrorists. Last year, she pleaded “emphatically not guilty” to allegations that she bluffed prison guards so that her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, could pass illicit messages through their translator. Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up the United Nations and other U.S. sites. Stewart’s trial is set for Jan. 12. � Detroit Four. Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 22, of Algeria, and Ahmed Hannan, 34, Karim Koubriti, 24, and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 37, all of Morocco, have been on trial since March 18. The government accuses them of operating a terror cell from their apartments in Dearborn and Detroit, Mich., and of trying to recruit other Muslims to wage terror. Judge Gerald Rosen has imposed a gag order on the trial, which is expected to wrap up in mid-May. Their former roommate, Youssef Hmimssa, pleaded guilty to nonterrorism charges and has testified for the prosecution. � Lackawanna Six. Young, popular and American-born, the six young men from Lackawanna, N.Y., seemed unlikely terrorists. Four have since pleaded guilty to attending an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan, but have denied participation in planning terrorism. Early on, their defense lawyers filed a motion citing a 2000 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the material support statute as unconstitutional and asking that the material support charges be dropped. Judge William Skretny of the Western District of New York rejected that argument. � Sami Al-Arian. After eight years of being investigated, Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor, was charged in February in a 50-count indictment. Al-Arian is accused of being the U.S. leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Three others in Florida and four still at large overseas were also indicted. Last week, Al-Arian expressed an interest in firing his attorneys. The case is in the Middle District of Florida before Judge James Moody Jr. � Drugs and weapons cases. Two alleged drugs-for-weapons plots have also been felled by the material support statute. Ilyas Ali, 55, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Pakistani nationals Muhammed Abid Afridi, 29, and Syed Mustajab Shah, 54, were arrested in Hong Kong last fall and face trial in San Diego for allegedly trying to trade heroin and hashish for anti-aircraft missiles for al-Qaida. The case is before Judge M. James Lorenz of the Southern District of California. And in a non-al-Qaida twist, four men have been charged in Houston for allegedly plotting to deliver some $25 million worth of weaponry to a Colombian group the State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization. � Funneling money to bin Laden. On March 4, the DOJ unsealed complaints against Mohammed Al Hasan Al-Moayad, 54, and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, 29, asserting that Al-Moayad told an undercover informant that he had personally delivered more than $20 million to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and that most of the money came from donations through a Brooklyn mosque. The two are currently in custody in Germany. � Mohamad Youssef Hammoud. Hammoud is the sole defendant a jury has found guilty of providing material support to a terrorist organization. His case is also the only one to predate Sept. 11, 2001. Indicted in 2000 on a litany of money laundering, racketeering and immigration fraud charges in addition to several counts of providing material support to terrorists, Hammoud was convicted two years later. The jury found him guilty of funneling profits from a cigarette smuggling operation to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. In February, Judge Graham Mullen of the Western District of North Carolina sentenced him to 155 years imprisonment. Hammoud is appealing to the 4th Circuit. � Benevolence International Foundation. Also in February, charity director Enaam Arnaout pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court in Chicago. Arnaout admitted to funneling money through the Illinois-based Benevolence International Foundation to rebels in Chechnya, but not to supporting al-Qaida. His sentencing hearing before Judge Suzanne Conlon is scheduled for June 17. � American Taliban. John Walker Lindh pleaded guilty last October to providing services to the Taliban and carrying a weapon in the commission of a felony — not to providing material support for a terrorist group. He is serving a 20-year prison term in California. � James Ujaama. Ujaama pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban. Ujaama had been accused of trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore. Under the plea, Ujaama, who has been in jail since last July, could spend as few as 21 more months behind bars. His case is before Judge Barbara Rothstein of the Western District of Washington.

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