Skip to comments.Judge will rule by Oct 3 on bail for terror suspects
Posted on 09/21/2002 10:04:32 AM PDT by ganesha
Judge will rule by Oct. 3 on bail for terror suspects By MICHAEL BEEBE News Staff Reporter 9/21/2002
Six Lackawanna men charged with providing support to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network will remain jailed at least for another two weeks, until a federal magistrate judge rules after conducting one of the longest bail hearings on record here.
Both sides will submit written briefs on their argument to the judge, who said he will issue a written decision by Oct. 3.
Government prosecutors offered little new evidence in their rebuttal Friday to defense claims that the accused pose no danger to the community and are not a risk to flee, the only two requirements for federal bail.
Prosecutors did reveal accusations that a man identified only as uncharged co-conspirator A - identified by law enforcement sources as Kamal Derwish, who is still at large - told the others that he expected to fight with the Taliban.
The main point made by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. on Friday was that the defendants trained in summer 2001 at al-Farooq, an al-Qaida military camp in Afghanistan, and lied about it when questioned by FBI agents on their return to this country.
Under the government's interpretation of the 1996 law, training with al-Qaida is providing material assistance to a foreign terrorist organization.
If they went to Pakistan for religious training, as they claim, and somehow ended up in the al-Qaida camp near Kandahar but didn't want to be there, Hochul said, why didn't they tell anyone?
" "I was duped. I was going to Pakistan, all of a sudden I was taken to Afghanistan,' " the prosecutor said, mocking the defendants, seated in court in khaki prison uniforms. "They get back to the United States. Do they say anything? "I got to tell you, there were some nuts in that camp'?"
No, they said nothing. "This was about a conspiracy of silence," Hochul told Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, a silence that he said was consistent with the government's claim that the men, and two others still at large and believed to be in the Middle East, are an al-Qaida sleeper cell, ready to be called into action.
"Can you point to a statute that says they were required to do something?" Schroeder asked about their later silence, repeatedly interrupting Hochul's arguments.
Schroeder told a courtroom crowded with the defendants' family members and the national media that no one should construe from the questions he asked which way he would rule.
But Hochul was clearly getting the brunt of the interrogation from Schroeder. The judge said he had a difficult balancing act in protecting both the community as well as the rights of the defendants, all native-born Americans.
"I haven't made up my mind," said Schroeder, formerly both a U.S. attorney and a private attorney. "If I look like I have bags under my eyes, I have been having some sleepless nights."
Charged are Yahya A. Goba, 25; Sahim Alwan, 29; Faysal H. Galab, 26; Shafel A. Mosed, 24; Yasein A. Taher, 24; and Mukhtar Ali al-Bakri, 22.
Defense lawyers, who have portrayed them as religious young men who went to Pakistan for Islamic studies, got one more chance in the third and final day of the bail hearing to say why they should be released before trial.
Only two of the defendants, Alwan and al-Bakri, have admitted they were at the camp, but they told the FBI that all the men were there.
Even if that were true, the defense argued, it is no proof that they would pose any danger if released on bail until trial.
The government produced no evidence, said William Clauss, a federal public defender representing Goba, "that indicated any of these defendants planned, organized, discussed, articulated or even thought of doing one single bad act to anyone, whether it be to Americans or someone else.
"If 9/11 means our Constitution has to be set aside because of a speculation of danger, it's not a road we can go down," he said.
Attorney James P. Harrington said there was a simple explanation why his client, Alwan, initially told no one after he returned from al-Farooq.
"He was, in fact, terrified," Harrington said. "After 9/11, he was particularly terrified."
The attacks of Sept. 11, Hochul said, are why the government brought these charges, why it could not ignore those who train with al-Qaida. "The government and the American public just cannot afford to have a crime on the scale of al-Qaida's ever occurring again," said Hochul.
Hochul quoted remarks made to The Buffalo News by Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the American Muslim Council here, who said the Muslim community would find it "unacceptable" if the men trained at al-Farooq.
"It is more than unacceptable," Hochul said. "It is criminal."
Schroeder also said that Sept. 11 is obviously a factor in whatever decision he makes.
"I know there are people out there who say if this judge lets these people out and we have another 9/11 . . . ," he said. "This is a risk I am taking. But I'm not concerned what anybody thinks."
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