Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The March indictment of accused terrorist Adham Amin Hassoun of Sunrise on charges including perjury and obstruction of justice is part of “wider ongoing” terror investigations involving “unindicted co-conspirators” who have yet to be publicly identified, the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami has disclosed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell R. Killinger declined to discuss the details of Hassoun’s case or the ongoing probe. He had said in court, however, that there is substantial likelihood additional individuals will be charged in a superseding indictment as early as mid-July. In interviews with the Daily Business Review, including one this week by telephone from his jail cell in West Palm Beach, Hassoun acknowledged knowing two former Broward residents who have alleged terrorist ties — alleged “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla and Adnan G. El Shukrijuma. But Hassoun said the associations were superficial and innocent. Hassoun’s case recently was shifted to newly appointed U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami, from Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 pages of FBI reports and transcripts from covert wiretaps approved by a secret U.S. court have been declassified and given to Hassoun’s defense lawyer. That court reviews the attorney general’s applications for electronic surveillance warrants. Only rarely has information from national security wiretaps obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Service Surveillance Act been entered into evidence in federal courtrooms in South Florida. Since the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001, however, the opportunity to introduce such evidence has increased, because that law lowered the longstanding wall between intelligence and law enforcement regarding the use in court of evidence obtained under FISA. Still, the FISA intercepts of telephone conversations, voicemail messages and facsimile transmissions in Hassoun’s case will not become public right away because the government won a protective order in April limiting access to Hassoun and his defense team, led by Fort Lauderdale lawyer Fred Haddad. “Pretrial public dissemination of the FISA materials risks compromising other investigations,” Killinger told Chief U.S. Magistrate Ann E. Vitunac in court filings. Killinger said disclosure of FISA materials must be limited to keep secret “embarrassing if not inculpatory” evidence about unindicted co-conspirators and innocents caught up in the probe. Killinger also argued that limiting access was necessary to protect the physical safety of two witnesses who “almost certainly” will confront Hassoun at trial. Specifically, the government wanted to protect their identities and any details about their criminal histories or the deals they’ve cut with the Justice Department in exchange for their testimony. It asked not to be required to produce the names of those witnesses or any possible impeachment material about them until closer to the trial. In granting the protective order, Magistrate Vitunac remarked that the government’s arguments were “well-taken.” She wrote that the “FISA intercepts, or any copies thereof, are now and will forever remain the property of the U.S. government.” In an interview, Haddad said he did not object to the government’s control over the FISA wiretap information because he thinks the arrangement will help his client. “I’ve now got boxes of this stuff, 10,000 to 12,000 pages, and I’m only through some of it,” Haddad said. “I agreed to this so I don’t have to file 6,000 motions to get all this stuff to defend my client. They’re being very above-board with me.” Haddad declined to discuss the substance of what he’s seen so far in the FISA documents, but he said the information has proved helpful to his client. “I surmise if I go to trial, I’ve got a very defendable case,” he said. Miami criminal defense attorney Neal Sonnett, chairman of the American Bar Association’s task force on the treatment of enemy combatants, praised the way the U.S. attorney’s office has handled Hassoun’s prosecution. “It’s good, professional procedure,” said Sonnett, who is not involved in the case. “That’s the way the government ought to proceed in these kinds of cases, so the defense is not denied the opportunity to fully prepare and the government can maintain confidentiality on the documents where they need it.” Along with Killinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian K. Frazier and Stephanie K. Pell, a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s counterterrorism section, are working on Hassoun’s case. CONFIRMS SOME TIES Born in a Lebanese refugee camp in 1962 to Palestinian parents, Hassoun, then a 42-year-old computer programmer with no criminal record, was arrested at gunpoint in June 2002 by agents from the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force while driving near his Sunrise home. He was locked up at the Krome Detention Center in South Miami-Dade, accused of violating the conditions of the visa he used to enter the country legally in 1989. In the months that followed, the government sought Hassoun’s removal from the U.S. in secret immigration court proceedings. In mid-December 2002, based on a still-sealed FBI affidavit, U.S. Immigration Judge Neale Foster in Miami ordered Hassoun’s deportation on the grounds that he was a “terrorist” who “had contact” with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Hassoun has been in federal custody since June 2002, when authorities learned of his associations with Padilla and El Shukrijuma. Padilla, a U.S. citizen, allegedly has ties to the highest levels of al Qaeda. He’s been declared an enemy combatant by President Bush and is imprisoned in a Navy brig in South Carolina. Padilla’s closely watched appeal of his indefinite detention is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a ruling is expected very soon. El Shukrijuma is one of seven fugitive al Qaeda suspects who are the focus of a worldwide manhunt announced at the end of May by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft has said those suspects are planning a major attack on U.S. soil this summer. Hassoun, Padilla and El Shukrijuma all worshipped at the same Fort Lauderdale mosque. Court documents show that federal authorities also have linked Hassoun to other important figures and groups in the war on terror, including a Chicago-based Islamic charity, the Benevolence International Foundation Inc. Hassoun was once the group’s registered agent in Florida. Authorities also have alleged that Hassoun was a member of an extremist group led by Sheik Abdel Rachman, the blind New York Islamic leader who is serving life in prison for his role in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center. In interviews with the Review, Hassoun confirmed that he worked briefly years ago for the Benevolence International Foundation. But he said he’s mystified by many other government accusations, including the government’s assertions about his ties to the violent extremist Rachman. “I am not worried about anything. I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Hassoun, a married father of three young sons, all U.S. citizens born in Broward County. LIED TO AGENTS? Court records filed by the government in Hassoun’s case show that the FISA evidence includes 275 transcripts of secretly recorded conversations and more than 300 summaries of those intercepts. The dates when the FISA intercepts were made were not disclosed. But authorities have publicly characterized the probe as “longstanding,” and the indictment indicates that Hassoun has been a subject of interest of U.S. intelligence agencies since at least 1997. About 12 of those transcripts constitute the “case-in-chief” against Hassoun. “Massive discovery was sent out on April 8,” the court records said. “There is a large volume of discovery material remaining.” In court papers, Killinger has estimated a jury trial would take 12 days. Until January of this year, the only charge against Hassoun was that he’d overstayed his nonimmigrant student visa. Then he was indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count of illegally possessing a pistol, which agents found when they searched Hassoun’s home following his arrest 19 months before. Six weeks later, Attorney General Ashcroft personally announced a 14-page superseding indictment adding seven additional counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. The sum of the new charges was that Hassoun lied repeatedly to cover up his work raising money and recruiting fighters in support of “global jihad.” The charges arose out of the answers Hassoun gave in response to questioning by authorities on the day of his arrest, while in custody later, and during the secret immigration court proceedings. The superseding indictment accused Hassoun of lying about recruiting, assisting and sending money to a man named Mohamed Youssef so he could travel to Kosovo to fight in a jihad; lying about his participation in a plot to assassinate a woman in Lebanon in August 1997 that the CIA and the State Department wanted to bring to the United States; and obstructing immigration court proceedings. In its request for the protective order a month later, the government said it planned to use both witness testimony and the FISA wiretaps to prove the “falsity” of Hassoun’s denials that he recruited, funded and supported jihad fighters. “To be clear, the government does not dispute that Hassoun is entitled to production of these materials, but seeks only to limit wider dissemination of the FISA intercepts and related material and to delay production of witness impeachment information,” the motion said. The Classified Information Procedures Act typically protects sensitive national security information that is to be used as evidence at public trials. But because the FBI declassified the FISA wiretaps to meet the court’s pretrial discovery requirements, the act doesn’t apply. So, the government instead sought a protective order. In the motion, Killinger argued that the FISA intercepts not only make it “apparent that Hassoun was promoting jihad activities,” but might expose continuing investigations involving “potential criminal targets who have not been arrested and innocent persons whose safety and privacy must be protected.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.