Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Lynne Stewart’s indictment for providing material support to a terror group was part of a “cynical effort” to destroy the radical defense attorney’s reputation and career, attorney Michael Tigar charged Wednesday. Firing back at the government in his closing argument, Tigar told the jury that six months of evidence amounted to no more than government “hype” aimed at Stewart, an attorney whom he described as a “courageous, brash and feisty” woman wrongly accused of joining an ill-defined conspiracy. Tigar called the closing argument of prosecutor Andrew Dember “cruel, reckless and inaccurate” and said the government had failed the jury by presenting no proof Stewart knew of “a conspiracy to use weapons in a Middle Eastern country, in Egypt or wherever.” Tigar’s closing followed an emotional summation by attorney Kenneth Paul on behalf of Stewart co-defendant Ahmed Abdel Sattar. Sattar’s actions and intentions form the core allegation in the case — that he was a key player in a conspiracy to kill and kidnap persons abroad launched with members of the U.S. government-designated terror organization Islamic Group. Stewart and a third co-defendant, interpreter Mohamed Yousry, are accused of providing and concealing material support to Islamic Group by acting as conduits to the Group’s spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for seditious conspiracy. Concerned that the sheik would inspire his followers to violent attack as part of Islamic Group’s long campaign to overthrow the Egyptian government and establish an Islamic state, officials with the Department of Justice imposed on the sheik Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, which prevented him from communicating with anyone but his lawyer or his immediate family. Stewart broke promises to abide by the SAMs, prosecutors charged, and aided Sattar’s conspiracy when she and Yousry passed messages to the sheik in prison meetings, including letters from supporters in Egypt sent through Sattar. YOUSRY CLOSING In his closing argument Monday, Yousry lawyer David Stern said there was hardly a conspiracy to conceal because his client openly read the letters, as well as news articles, to the sheik. Tigar made the same point Wednesday, saying that the jury would be instructed by Judge John Koeltl that “a conspiracy may be characterized by secrecy,” but here, “what Lynne Stewart did was in the light of day.” The chief allegation against Stewart is that she that aided the violent conspiracy by broadcasting a statement from the sheik in 2000 in which he allegedly withdrew his support for a cease-fire in his group’s conflict with the Egyptian government and others. The government alleges that the true character of Sattar was revealed when he and an Islamic Group military leader named Taha followed Stewart’s press release on the cease-fire by issuing a religious edict in the sheik’s name calling for attacks on Jews. The edict, or fatwa, led the government to charge Sattar with soliciting crimes of violence. Wednesday, Tigar followed up on one argument pressed by Paul, Sattar’s attorney, that the sheik’s announcement on the cease-fire only questioned its effectiveness and called for further discussions by members of Islamic Group. Tigar also said there was real debate over the actual influence of the sheik and whether he was, in the words of Dember, the “ultimate arbiter” of disputes within the group. Tigar said the initial declaration of the cease-fire in 1997 — a declaration supported by the sheik from prison in a press release issued by attorney Ramsey Clark — came three months before the savage murder of 58 tourists and four Egyptians at an archeological site in Luxor, Egypt. The government alleges the attack was masterminded by Taha, who later surfaced in Afghanistan and was pictured in a videotape with Osama bin Laden and one of the sheik’s sons calling for the release the sheik. In the first two hours of an argument that stretched throughout Wednesday, Tigar sought to portray Taha as the most militant of Islamic Group members, a person whose views on the cease-fire were rejected by other leading members of the group. STEWART AND SATTAR Tigar was careful to distinguish his client from Sattar, who had a series of phone conversations with Taha recorded by the government and played for the jury. “Easy assumptions about so-called guilt-by-association don’t belong here,” Tigar said as he began walking the jury through the elements of the crimes charged in the indictment. Stewart is also accused of conspiring to defraud the government and making false statements. Stewart was never a party to those conversations between Sattar, Taha and others, Tigar said. He reminded the jury that she did not speak Arabic and warned against “carelessly confusing” the agendas of different players in the trial. ARGUING FOR SATTAR Paul said Sattar, a Staten Island postal worker, did not belong to Islamic Group and was only working for political change in Egypt in his role as a “middle man” between the sheik and his followers. He claimed Sattar did not push for a renunciation of the cease-fire, but instead loyally presented the sheik with a wide range of views within Islamic Group about its effectiveness. That was sharply at odds with Dember’s closing argument. Paul said the recorded phone calls between Sattar, Taha and others showed only that Sattar was “used” by members of Islamic Group. His client, he insisted, was never a threat to anyone. Paul played a tape of Sattar recorded by the government. The defendant was talking on the phone with a co-worker one week after the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The tape, he argued, revealed a tearful Sattar lamenting the loss of life, insisting that the attacks on Sept. 11 were “not an act of Islam.” Upon hearing Sattar’s voice on the tape, Paul said, members of the jury should ask: “Is he the kind of person who revels in violence?”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

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 © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.