"Hero" or "Terrorist" Cuban Exile Luis Posada Carriles Feted in Miami Following Acquittal on 11 Counts; Deportation Sought by U.S. Government

Luis Posada Carriles was 30 years old at the time of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. He was sent to prison by the regime of Fidel Castro and subsequently sought asylum in Mexico. Posada then emigrated to the United States where he helped to organize President John F. Kennedy's and the CIA's failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. He then returned to the U.S. where he became a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was active in the CIA's Operation 40--a guerilla force which operated covertly to overthrow the Castro regime. Posada also developed close ties to anti-Castro groups in the U.S., including the Cuban American National Foundation.

Eventually suspected by the CIA of alleged involvement in several bombing plots, Posada relocated to Venezuela in 1968. Carriles became a chief of operations for Venezuela's intelligence agencies. The CIA severed all ties with Posada in 1976, on suspicion that he was allegedly involved in cocaine trafficking. That same year, he was arrested in Venezuela for alleged involvement in the bombing of Cubana airlines flight 455, which killed all 73 people on board. He was acquitted in a trial in military court, however the verdict was overturned and Posada was retried in a civil court. He escaped from prison in Venezuela and sought asylum in Chile.

Posada was imprisoned in Chile until 1985, when he escaped from prison again, dressing as a priest. He fled to El Salvador, where he again became involved in U.S. activities in the region, helping to provide supplies to the Contra forces opposed to the Sandinista regime of Nicaragua for the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Following the Reagan administration, Posada became a security advisor to the Guatemalan government. He was shot in Guatemala City in 1990, upon information and belief by Cuban agents.

Posada was implicated in a series of bombings in Cuba in 1997 which killed a Canadian citizen and wounded 11 other people. He was arrested in Panama City in 2000 with 200 pounds of explosives which were allegedly to be used to assassinate Castro, who was to visit Panama for the first time since 1959. In 2004, Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso pardoned Posada and his alleged co-conspirators. Posada requested asylum in the United States in 2005, and he was detained by the Department of Homeland Security, which sought to deport him. He was released on bond in 2007, and was indicted on seven counts of alleged immigration fraud. In 2009, a grand jury in El Paso, Texas, issued a superseding indictment against Posada, charging him with 11 counts, including immigration fraud, obstruction of a terrorism investigation and terrorism charges relating to the 1997 Cuban bombings. As reported by the Miami Herald, Posada was tried in a 13 week trial in the Western District of Texas in 2010. The jury took 3 hours to find him not guilty on all charges. 

Last week, the 83 year-old Posada received a gala dinner in Miami by Cuban exile organizations including Alpha 66, intended to help defray his legal expenses. Posada's counsel stated that they believed that the jury was favorably disposed to Posada as a result of his military history. However, as a result of his 2004 Panamanian conviction, Posada is barred from seeking residency in the U.S. No other countries will accept Posada, however, besides Cuba and Venezuela, and the U.S. has refused to deport him to Cuba or Venezuela, citing concerns that he might be tortured. Venezuela has announced that it will re-file its petition to extradite Posada. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called Posada the "biggest terrorist" on the continent, and Castro has denounced Posada as a "coward."

Ehsanul Islam Sadequee Convicted

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the jury in the trial of Ehsanul Islam Sadequee found Sadequee guilty of conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and attempting to aid terrorists, in particular Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization, after deliberating for five hours. Sadequee had represented himself throughout the trial.

Sadequee told the jurors during his closing arguments that he and friend and fellow defendant, Syed Haris Ahmed, were young and immature with imaginations that "ran wild," but that he was not a terrorist.

Defense attorney Don Samuel told reporters that the government's showing of a terrorist video on how to make a bomb detonator changed the whole atmosphere of the trial.

Sadequee and Ahmed will be sentenced on September 15. Sadequee, who is 23, faces a maximum sentence of 60 years.

Sister Testifies on Behalf of Alleged Atlanta Terrorist Ehsanul Islam Sadequee; Closing Arguments and Deliberations Today

As reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press, closing arguments have started in the terrorism trial of Atlanta area native and former Georgia Tech student Ehsanul Islam Sadequee. Sadequee is representing himself and will present his own closing argument.

Sadequee called only two witnesses in his defense before resting his case, including his older sister, Sharanika Sonali Sadequee. Sadequee told the Court that he did not want to testify in his defense. His sister testified that he was quiet, inquisitive and nonviolent and had traveled to Bangladesh to marry his long-time love. The government contends that the trip was actually a cover for Sadequee's alleged plan to attend a terrorist training camp. Sharanika Sadequee testified that her brother has been prohibited from discussing certain subjects in the trial, including his arrest in Bangladesh, which she called a kidnapping, and an attack on Sadequee by another inmate while he has been in custody. Sadequee's mother prayed in the courtroom throughout the proceedings.

U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., scolded Sadequee for attempting to introduce his wedding photographs into evidence at the last minute. The Judge denied Sadequee's motion for acquittal and ruled that there was sufficient evidence to take the case to the jury on all four counts. The jury will begin deliberations later today.

Update on Trial of Second Alleged Atlanta Terrorist Ehsanul Islam Sadequee

Checking in on the Atlanta trial of 23 year-old Ehsanul Islam Sadequee for allegedly supporting terrorism, last Wednesday Sadequee's alleged co-conspirator and friend, Syed Haris Ahmed, who was convicted on similar charges in June, took the stand to testify against Sadequee on behalf of the government. As reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Fulton County Daily Report, Sadequee is representing himself in the trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Ahmed told the jury that he and Sadequee had discussed attacking oil refineries on American soil and traveling to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and joining Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization committed to wresting control of Kashmir from India. Ahmed testified that he and Sadequee talked about attacking oil storage facilities in order to disrupt the U.S. economy. Ahmed told the jury about his and Sadequee's trip to Washington, D.C., in 2005 in order to videotape alleged targets for terrorist strikes.

Prior to last week, Ahmed had refused to testify against his friend, however, prosecutors managed to persuade him to take the stand by promsing him immunity for his testimony. He prayed before his testimony, and waved to Sadequee's family as he left the courtroom. Ahmed and Sadequee met at a mosque in midtown Atlanta in 2004. They allegedly spent many hours in online chat rooms dedicated to militant Islam and watching jihad recruitment videos. Ahmed attempted to warn Sadequee after Ahmed was interviewed by the FBI, using a pay phone and a computer at a public library because he was worried that his house was bugged. Ahmed was arrested several days later, and Sadequee was arrested in Bangladesh, where he had traveled to get married and to allegedly contact terrorist groups.

Prosecutors played for the jury the videotapes which Ahmed and Sadequee made in Washington which were sent to a terrorist suspect in London, which included a statement by Sadequee stating "This is where our brothers attacked the Pentagon." Also on Wednesday, FBI agents testified regarding e-mails and online chat conversations by Sadequee about potential ways to fund his trip to Pakistan, including by robbing people at ATMs and selling marijuana in Canada. Sadequee cross examined FBI Agent James Allen regarding the conversations, pointing out that the term "LOL" (laugh out loud) and other online slang indicated that the conversations were not serious.

On Thursday, Sadequee spent hours cross-examining his friend and co-defendant Ahmed. However, Sadequee, who had elected not to use attorney Don Samuel of Garland, Samuel & Loeb and attorney Khurrum B. Wahid of Miami, may have helped the prosecution's case more than his own, since Ahmed's replies appeared to confirm Sadequee's alleged intent to join with Muslim extremists in Canada and his alleged belief that the U.S. government. economic system and media were instruments of the antichrist. Sadequee further introduced as evidence the preface from a book on jihadist theology which referred to hostilities towards Chritinas and Jews. he strengthened his connection with a group of alleged terrorists in Canada who had plotted to blow up the Canadian parliament in 2006 and were arrested.

Sadequee did not inform his lawyers that he wished to represent himself until the day his trial began. Mr. Samuel told reporters that Sadequee made his decision because there were certain things he wanted to raise, including moral issues, and questions he wanted to raise with witnesses.

Prosecutors questioned several witnesses on Friday.

Sadequee is an American citizen whose family came from Bangladesh and who grew up in Roswell, Georgia. He has been in custody for the past three years and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Alleged Terrorist Ehsanul Sadequee Delivers Prayer and Opening Statement; Alleged Co-Conspirator Testifies

Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, nicknamed "Shifa," which means "Cure," is representing himself in his trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on four counts of allegedly conspiring to provide material support to terrorism. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press, Sadequee began his 14 minute opening statement with a prayer. He told the jury that he had talked about jihadist "fantasies" but that it was empty talk and that there was no plan to carry out acts of terrorism. Sadequee denied conspiring with known terrorists. He told the jurors that he only discussed jihad in online chat rooms."If everything is a question mark, can there be a plan?" he asked the jurors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney argued to the jury that Sadequee only needed to orchestrate the crime, not carry out any terrorism. The government claimed that Sadequee began visiting online sites frequented by Islamic militants and leaving messages regarding his intent to join the Taliban shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when he was only 15.

The government presented testimony by Omer Kamal, an Atlanta accountant, former Georgia tech student and friend of Sadequee's. Kamal testified that he, Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed, who was convicted in June, watched training videos by Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, and practiced jihad attack techniques with paintball guns in North Georgia. He stated that he backed out of the group when they started planning to visit the Middle East to link up with terrorist groups. Kamal cooperated with the FBI and agreed to testify against Sadequee after becoming concerned that he was under surveillance. He said that the group discussed attacking targets including the White House, the U.S. Capitol, Guantanamo Bay Prison and Abu Ghraib. Kamal said he had slipped a note under his friends' doors when he decided to leave the group. Sadequee then went with Ahmed to Toronto, Canada, to meet with terrorists there. Sadequee spent over an hour cross-examining Kamal yesterday.

Mr. McBurney argued that Sadequee sent videos of the alleged targets to a terrorist suspect in Britain disguising the videos with titles such as "jimmy's 13th birthday party" and "volleyball contest." He claimed that Sadequee subsequently traveled to Bangladesh in order to get married, but also to link up with terrorist groups. Sadequee was arrested in Bangladesh in 2006. Mr. McBurney said that Sadequee communicated with other terror suspects including Ahmed and Mirsad Bektasevic, a Balkan-born Swede who was convicted in 2007 of planning to blow up a target in Europe to force the pullout of foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ahmed, who is awaiting sentencing, has agreed to testify against Sadequee, and will take the stand today.

Sadequee has worn a gray tunic with a beard and long hair during the proceedings. Sadequee's mother, Shirin, sat in the audience during the proceedings and wept and prayed for her son. If convicted Sadequee faces up to 60 years in prison.


Second Alleged Atlanta Terrorist Ehsanul Islam Sadequee Begins Trial; Representing Self

We closely followed the trial of Syed Haris Ahmed, who was convicted for providing material support to terrorism in early June--all of our posts may be found here. The trial of Ahmed's alleged co-conspirator, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee on terrorism charges began yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Sadequee has apparently taken a page from Ahmed, who delivered a highly unusual closing argument in his own case, and has opted to represent himself and will present his own opening statements, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sadequee has opted for a jury trial unlike his alleged co-conspirator, who was tried by the same judge, the Honorable William S. Duffey. The parties completed jury selection yesterday.

Attorney Don Samuel is serving as stand-by counsel for Sadequee. Mr. Samuel told the Court that Sadequee did not understand what it meant to represent himself. Judge Duffey replied that he had informed Sadequee regarding what it meant to represent himself numerous times.

Sadequee, who is nicknamed “Shifa,” was born in Virginia in 1986, and is of Bangladeshi descent. He and Ahmed are most infamously accused of videotaping landmarks in Washington, D.C., in April of 2005, for purposes of terrorism, including the United States Capitol and the headquarters building of the World Bank. It is also alleged that Sadequee and Ahmed engaged in paramilitary training in North Georgia; met with a circle of terrorists in Toronto, Canada, in February of 2005; and sent the video of the alleged targets to Younis Tsouli, a terrorist in the United Kingdom.

Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Judgment-Guilty

On Wednesday, Syed Haris Ahmed was found guilty of providing material support to terrorism by Judge William S. Duffey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, as reported by Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The government presented evidence that Ahmed and co-defendant Ehsanul Islam Sadequee traveled to Canada to meet with other supporters of terrorism, and later traveled to Washington, D.C., to videotape targets which they sent to supporters of terrorism in the United Kingdom. From all accounts, Ahmed's attorney, Jack Martin, did the best he could for his client in a case full of grave allegations against Ahmed, and one in which the client insisted on giving a closing argument which was a discourse on Islam, and not the evidence against him.

Following the hearing, Ahmed's father, Syed Riaz Ahmed, told reporters “He’s not guilty of any crimes in the eyes of Allah. He’s guilty of U.S. laws.”

Ahmed will be sentenced later this year. The 24 year-old, who was on an engineering scholarship to Georgia Tech, faces up to 15 years in prison. He has already spent more than 3 years in solitary confinement.

Sadequee's trial on similar charges is currently set to begin on August 3.


Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Final Day and an Unorthodox Closing Argument


John Murgatroyd at CNNBill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Greg Bluestein of the Associated Press have weighed in on the final day of the trial of Atlanta area resident, former Georgia Tech student, and alleged terrorism supporter Syed Haris Ahmed. Ahmed delivered his own closing argument yesterday in his bench trial before U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey.


Ahmed’s attorney, Jack Martin, called two witnesses on Thursday, Ahmed’s father and older sister, who testified that Ahmed was searching for his Muslim identity.


At the close of the defense’s case, Mr. Martin moved for judgment of acquittal, arguing that “The evidence is very, very thin.” “These were random thoughts, no plans, essentially a bull session about what we could do if we ever wanted to do something,” Martin said. Martin characterized the videos Ahmed and co-defendant Ehsanul Islam Sadequee took of Washington, D.C.-area landmarks as amateurish, stating “You’d be better off getting postcards of Washington than using any of those videos.” Ahmed stood an objected to Mr. Martin’s arguments. “I was told I would give a closing argument,” he said. The Court denied Mr. Martin’s motion.


Later in the day, Ahmed delivered his closing, speaking about his Islamic faith for 45 minutes. He wore a white skullcap and a beard. Ahmed nervously clicked a ink pen while he was speaking and several times asked a court reporter if he was speaking too fast. He seemed to believe that he would be found guilty, stating “I may not get a chance at a public hearing for a long time.”


Ahmed read nine verses of the Quran in Arabic, and never addressed the charges or evidence against him. “I just want to convey the message of God,” Ahmed told the Court, referring to himself. Ahmed stated that that his faith prevented him from using the law to defend himself. “Any authority not derived from the authority of God is a state of rebellion.”


Ahmed compared Islam with Christianity. “The Christians of America, my message is this: We worship the same God.” He stated that that the Quran is more authoritative than the Bible and that Muslims are actually closer followers of Jesus than Christians were. Ahmed spoke about linguistic similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, and shared beliefs between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ahmed said that no one had ever harassed him regarding his beliefs while he had been living in Georgia. He stated that he only wanted to help the public understand his faith. “I hope that if I deliver the message that has been revealed by Allah, the promise of protection from evil will come to me,” Ahmed said.


Judge Duffey addressed Ahmed, stating that “This is not a case about your faith, nor my faith. This is about your conduct.” Judge Duffey informed Ahmed that he would decide the case by considering the evidence. The Judge stated that Ahmed had deviated from the written statement he had submitted, and noted that Ahmed was smirking.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney delivered the government’s closing argument. “The case is not about throwing bombs and shooting soldiers, but providing support for those activities,” Mr. McBurney said.


Ahmed is 24, and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.



Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Day 3


As reported by John Murgatroyd of CNN and the Associated Press, the government rested its case against alleged would-be terrorist Syed Haris Ahmed yesterday.


Prosecutors argued that, after interviewing Ahmed, the FBI instructed him not to talk with his co-defendant, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee. However, Ahmed proceeded to contact Sadequee, who was visiting his father in Pakistan, via e-mail using a computer at a library in North Georgia while under FBI surveillance. Ahmed allegedly wrote Sadequee that “the dogs” (law enforcement) had come to him, and had information on his and Sadequee’s trips to Toronto, Canada, and Washington, D.C. Ahmed’s attorney, Jack Martin, countered that Ahmed did not believe the e-mail account was being monitored by the FBI, and pointed to a March 21, 2006, e-mail in which Ahmed wrote to Sadequee "I told them, which is true to the best of my knowledge, that we were kids who just got excited."


A terrorism consultant for the government testified that the individuals to whom Ahmed and Sadequee sent videos of alleged terrorism targets in the Washington area, Abaid Hussain Khan and Younis Tsouli, had connections with terrorist organizations.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney stated that Ahmed and Sadequee were in possession of a large quantity of “violent jihad materials” when they were arrested.


Mr. Martin is expected to call two of Ahmed’s family members as witnesses for the defense. The defense is also expected to deliver their closing arguments. Mr. Martin has told reporters that his closing will focus on "the message of Islam."


An article by Raffaello Pantucci in Perspectives in Terrorism, a journal of the Terrorism Research Institute, provides a bit of background on the individuals Ahmed and Sadequee are alleged to have associated with. In October of 2005, police in Bosnia raided properties near Sarajevo and arrested two young men with suicide vests, weapons and martyrdom videos. The police also seized telephone numbers, including one belonging to Tsouli, the son of a Moroccan diplomat in London. Police in London raided Tsouli’s home on October 25, 2005, where they seized his computer. Police found evidence that Tsouli had placed videos online for al-Qaeda in Iraq; had designed online magazines, logos and training materials and courses for extremists to learn how to hack and hide materials; and was designing a website allegedly called “Youbombit,” a perversion of the popular video website YouTube. Tsouli was also found to share managing rights with Khan to an extremist website called At-Tibyan. The search of Tsouli’s computer led to numerous arrests by British police, as well as by law enforcement overseas. Among the foreign arrests were a group known as the “Toronto 17,” a group of extremists in Canada who were alleged to have run terrorist training camps, plotted bombings and to have called for the public beheading of the Canadian Prime Minister. Ahmed and Sadequee allegedly met with members of the Toronto 17 during their trip to Canada in March of 2005.



Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Day 2

Today’s updates on the trial of alleged terrorist-in-training Syed Haris Ahmed come from John Murgatroyd of CNN and Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

On day 2, the prosecution called Zubair Ahmed, a 30 year-old Chicago resident who had pled guilty to one count of providing material support to terrorism in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio last January, to testify. Zubair Ahmed testified that he traveled to Egypt with his cousin in the summer of 2004 with the intent to enter Iraq or Afghanistan to fight violent jihad against the United States. However, before he and his cousin could leave Egypt, Ahmed’s father discovered his whereabouts and went to Egypt to bring him home.


Zubair Ahmed testified that he met Syed Haris Ahmed on an Islamic website. He stated that he and Syed Haris Ahmed began communicating in 2002 regarding waging violent jihad against oppressors of Muslims. According to Zubair Ahmed’s testimony, the two eventually met in Chicago and briefly discussed violent jihad. In an e-mail, Zubair Ahmed told Syed that the biggest obstacle to waging jihad was their parents, however Zubair stated that Syed later told him that he had received his mother’s permission to return to Pakistan and engage in jihad.


He further testified that he and Syed Haris Ahmed would communicate through coded words in the Urdu language, the indigenous language of Pakistan. Zubair Ahmed stated that they devised a number system to refer to stages or phases of their faith and towards jihad, with 1 being ideological, 2 being logistical and 3 being fighting or battle. He testified that he wrote Syed Haris Ahmed that they were almost at phase or stage 3 in November 2005.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney presented e-mail and online chat session evidence seized from Syed Haris Ahmed’s hard drive. The evidence allegedly showed that Ahmed was referred to as a leader by his alleged co-conspirators. FBI Special Agent James Allen testified that certain coded e-mails allegedly indicated that Ahmed intended to enter a terrorist training camp during his trip to Pakistan in July 2005. AUSA McBurney also introduced evidence from an online chat room that Ahmed expressed regret that he did not follow through with his plan to wage violent jihad in Pakistan a few days after returning from Pakistan in August 2005.


An FBI agent also testified that on September 13, 2005, the agent followed Ahmed to the library at Georgia Tech and observed Ahmed allegedly sit down at a computer console and pull up a website showing how to make explosives.


Ahmed’s attorney, Jack Martin, argued there is no evidence his client ever had a specific plan. Mr. Martin’s defense is that the prosecution cannot prove that Ahmed entered into a formal conspiracy to support terror. He referred to a recording of an interview of Ahmed by the FBI in which Ahmed stated that, upon arriving in Pakistan, he talked to his cousins “and they put some sense into me." Mr. Martin characterized Ahmed as a shy and emotional young man who did not have a religious role model and turned to the Internet to find his identity as a Muslim. He argued that Ahmed never committed any act of violence, that there were never any agreements with co-conspirators and that the alleged plans were nothing more than "childish fantasies."


The prosecution has pointed to Ahmed’s statement during an interview with the FBI that the videos which he and alleged co-conspirator Ehsanul Islam Sadequee made of alleged targets in the Washington, D.C., area were sent to alleged terrorists overseas "to prove that, you know, we are something."

Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Pretrial Proceedings

Now that the trial of alleged would-be terrorist Syed Haris Ahmed has begun, additional information regarding the case and the issues involved may be gleaned from reviewing the filings filed in the case. Numerous filings have been made in the case—the docket sheet contains over 300 entries.

On June 15, 2006, Ahmed’s attorney, Jack Martin, filed a motion to suppress his statements given to Joint Terrorism Task Force Officers between March 10 and March 18, 2006. In the alternative, Ahmed moved to enforce the agents’ alleged promise to him that they would not prosecute him and would leave him alone if he answered their questions (Ahmend was arrested on March 23, 2006). Mr. Martin argued in the motion that Ahmed’s alleged statements were involuntarily given, and thus subject to suppression, because they were given in exchange for a promise of non-prosecution. He requested a hearing pursuant to Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368 (1964).

In addition, on June 16, 2006, the prosecution filed a Notice of Intent to Use Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Information Pursuant to Title 50, United States Code, Sections1806(c) and 1835(d). The defense filed a motion to suppress the surveillance evidence. It also requested disclosure of materials relating to the surveillance of Ahmed. Ahmed argued that there was a serious question as to whether he met the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (FISA’s) definition of an “agent of a foreign power” for the purposes of Title 50, Section 1801(e). The government and the defense subsequently agreed to disclosure of classified materials pursuant to a protective order.

Ahmed filed a motion to suppress his statements made on August 19, 2005, to Customs and Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and FBI agents at the Atlanta airport, on October 2, 2006, requesting a Jackson v. Denno hearing regarding whether his statements were voluntarily given.

On October 2, 2006, the defense filed a motion to dismiss counts three and four of the superseding indictment. The defense alleged that Title 18, Section 2339B was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, both on its face and as applied. Mr. Martin argued that Title 18, Section 2339B(a)(1), which makes it a crime whenever a person “knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so,” is not tied to any particular criminal act, was ill-defined and included within its scope constitutionally protected speech and activity.

Ahmed filed another motion to suppress on September 13, 2007, moving any evidence obtained during his interrogation and search by government authorities on August 19, 2005. Mr. Martin alleged that the agents searched Ahmed’s backpack and luggage and found no contraband, but nevertheless seized certain articles in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Lastly, Ahmed’s counsel filed a motion to suppress the fruits of the government’s search of library records at the Chestatee Regional Library in Dawsonville, Georgia, pursuant to FISA

These motions by the defense were denied.


Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Background

As related in an article today in the Fulton County Daily Report, Syed Haris Ahmed's parents emigrated from Pakistan to the U.S. when Ahmed was 12. Ahmed's father, Syed Ahmed, was a computer engineer who earned his degree at the University of Evansville in Indiana, and moved his family to Georgia because of relatives living there. Ahmed senior taught at Kennesaw State University before becoming a professor at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega. Ahmed has a sister who is married and lives in Pakistan.

The article reports that Ahmed had a slight lisp when he was young and was shy and often isolated from his classmates. The family lived in Marietta and later moved to Dawsonville, Georgia, where Ahmed attended high school and took college courses.

Ahmed's attorney, Jack Martin, told the Court that the family was not particularly religious, and that Ahmed was "left alone to find religion." At 19, Ahmed began to frequent Muslim chat rooms on the internet.

Martin told the Court that when Ahmed was offered a chance to enroll in a paramilitary camp during his trip to Pakistan, he changed his mind and returned to the United States.


Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Allegations


By way of background, the Government originally charged Syed Haris Ahmed in a sealed indictment filed on March 23, 2006. The Government obtained a Superseding Indictment on July 19, 2006. It has charged Ahmed and his co-defendant, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of Title 18 United States Code Sections 956 and 2332b; one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of Title 18, Sections 956, 2332b and 2339A; one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, in violation of Title 18, Section 2339B; and one count of attempting to provide material support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, in violation of Title 18, Section 2339B.

The Government’s Superseding Indictment contains the following facts and allegations:

Ahmed was born in Pakistan in 1984 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Sadequee, who is allegedly nicknamed “Shifa,” was born in Virginia in 1986, and is of Bangladeshi descent.

In or around late 2004, Ahmed and Sadequee and another person engaged in alleged paramilitary training, including with paintball guns, in Northwest Georgia.

On or about February 26, 2005, Ahmed and Sadequee traveled to Toronto, Canada, by bus. While in Toronto, Ahmed and Sadequee allegedly met in person with “supporters of violent jihad” and “discussed strategic locations in the United States that were suitable for terrorist attack, including military bases and oil storage facilities and refineries.” Ahmed, Sadequee and the others allegedly also “explored how they might disrupt the world-wide Global Positioning System (GPS)” and “a plan for members of the group to travel to Pakistan to seek and receive paramilitary training that they would then use to engage in violent jihad.”

After returning to Atlanta, in or about March or April 2005, Ahmed and Sadequee further discussed these plans, and also the possibility of attacking Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia.

At or around this time, Sadequee was allegedly in communication with Younis Tsouli, an unindicted co-conspirator in the United Kingdom.

On or about April 10 and 11, 2005, Ahmed and Sadequee traveled to Washington, D.C., in Ahmed’s pickup truck. On April 11, Ahmed and Sadequee allegedly “made short digital video recordings… of symbolic and infrastructure targets of potential terrorist attacks in the Washington, D.C., area, including the United States Capitol; the headquarters building of the World Bank…; the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Virginia; and a group of large fuel storage tanks near I-95 in northern Virginia.”

On returning to Atlanta, Ahmed allegedly gave the video clips to Sadequee so that he could send the clips to supporters of violent jihad abroad. Sadequee allegedly sent the video clips to Tsouli in the United Kingdom and Tsouli stored the clips on his computer along with other materials relating to violent jihad.

Between March and July 2005, Sadequee allegedly provided Ahmed with the contact information for Abu Umar, an unindicted co-conspirator, and told Ahmed that Abu Umar could assist Ahmed with obtaining paramilitary training in Pakistan. On or about July 17, 2005, Ahmed traveled from Atlanta to Pakistan for the alleged purpose of studying in a madrassa and then obtaining paramilitary training to engage in violent jihad in Kashmir or other locations, including the U.S. Ahmed is alleged to have intended to join Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (“Army of the Righteous”). Ahmed was allegedly unsuccessful in his attempts to enter a madrassa or to obtain paramilitary training, and returned to Atlanta.

On or about August 18, 2005, Sadequee traveled from Atlanta to Bangladesh to allegedly get married and to pursue violent jihad. Sadequee was stopped as he traveled through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and was discovered to allegedly have two compact discs concealed in the lining of his suitcase which contained a Fairfax County, Virginia, Visitor’s Center map of the Washington area, including the sites of four potential terrorist targets which Sadequee and Ahmed had videotaped in April 2005. Sadequee was interviewed by federal agents and allegedly falsely stated that he had traveled to Toronto alone.

On or about August 19, 2005, Ahmed returned to Atlanta from Pakistan and was interviewed by federal agents at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. Ahmed allegedly made false and misleading statements about his travel to Canada and Pakistan, allegedly stating that he had made the trips to visit friends and family and to attend a religious school.

In the Fall of 2005, Ahmed allegedly researched shaped explosive charges and methods to defeat surveillance by government authorities. He also allegedly cautioned an individual to avoid discussing certain topics over the telephone.

On or about November 27, 2005, Ahmed allegedly told a supporter of violent jihad of his intent to go abroad again to train for, and engage in, violent jihad, and told the individual to read the indictment against Jose Padilla. At or around this time, Ahmed allegedly reviewed a periodical for gun enthusiasts.

In early 2006, Ahmed allegedly engaged in efforts to detect and evade suspected government surveillance. In March of 2006, agents from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force engaged in a series of interviews with Ahmed, in which Ahmed allegedly attempted to conceal the true nature of his, Sadequee’s and their alleged co-conspirators’ discussions, activities and plans. After the interviews began, Ahmed communicated with Sadequee in Bangladesh and warned him about the FBI’s interest in their activities.


Syed Haris Ahmed Trial: Day 1


The trial of Syed Haris Ahmed is Georgia’s most significant terrorism case and we will collect for readers daily information on the trial and additional information. Today’s information on the Ahmed/Sadequee Trial comes from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSBTV and CNN.

Ahmed is 24, an Atlanta area native and a former student at Georgia Tech. Ahmed waived his right to jury trial, and his case is being tried before District Court Judge William S. Duffey in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia without a jury. Jack Martin, of Martin Brothers, P.C., is representing Ahmed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney is representing the United States. Ahmed’s co-defendant, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, will be tried in August. Stephanie Kearns of the Federal Defender Program is representing Sadequee.

On Monday, Mr. Martin gave his opening statements to the Court, describing Ahmed as a confused, frustrated and immature young man who “fell prey” to websites espousing extremist views. Mr. Martin characterized the alleged plans for terrorist acts as “passing random thoughts, momentary ideas, childish fantasies, unformed, inchoate notions.” Mr. Martin argued that Ahmed had the ability to commit the alleged acts but said “No.” He stated that Ahmed’s idea of paramilitary training was shooting paintball guns with a friend in the North Georgia woods.

Mr. McBurney argued that Ahmed “one step removed from the bomb throwers” and intended to wage violent jihad. Mr. McBurney argued that Ahmed was a would-be terrorist who went to Pakistan to join the Taliban. He said that the videos made by Ahmed while allegedly “casing” locations in Washington, D.C., including the Capitol and the Pentagon, were intended to prove to terrorists overseas that Ahmed had access to Washington’s “backyard” and could get in close to targets. McBurney said the government’s case is about supporting terrorism and not actually “pulling the trigger or dropping the bomb.”

FBI Special Agent Mark Richards testified for the government. During Agent Richard’s testimony, the government showed some of the videos. In one video of the World Bank Building, Ahmed bobbed up and down so much that Mr. Martin asked Special Agent Richards “If a terrorist was attacking on a pogo stick, this might be useful, right?” However, another video shows Ahmed and Sadequee driving past the Pentagon with Sadequee stating “This is where our brothers attacked.”