Fairfax Muslim Cleric Hate
By Matthew Barakat
July 23, 2006
The Bush administration's post-September 11
eavesdropping program did not compromise its prosecution of an American Muslim
cleric convicted of soliciting treason and persuading some of his followers to
join the Taliban, prosecutors said.
But defense attorneys are not satisfied with the government's claim, and on
Friday a federal judge held a closed-door hearing and allowed attorneys for Ali
al-Timimi some latitude to investigate the government's conduct.
Al-Timimi, of Fairfax, a U.S.-born Muslim who studied under prominent fundamentalist clerics in Saudi Arabia, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year for soliciting treason and urging some of his followers in the days after the September 11 terrorist attacks to take up arms in defense of the Taliban against U.S. troops.
Prosecutors said he was the leader of a "Virginia jihad network" who enjoyed
rock star status among his followers, some of whom played paintball in the
Virginia woods prior to September 11 as a means of training for global holy war
in Chechnya and other hot spots.
Four of al-Timimi's followers ended up traveling to Pakistan and receiving
military training from a militant group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. Some of the four
admitted that their ultimate goal was to defend the Taliban, though none
actually made it to Afghanistan.
Al-Timimi's appellate attorney, Jonathan Turley, challenged the conviction
late last year after revelations that President Bush had authorized the National
Security Agency (NSA) to conduct certain types of domestic surveillance without
a search warrant. Mr. Turley contends the program is illegal and that evidence
obtained from such surveillance should have been turned over to defense
In a court filing last week, prosecutors said nothing was improperly
"The records in the control of the NSA have indeed been searched, and the
government did indeed produce to Al-Timimi all of the discovery to which he was
entitled," prosecutor Gordon Kromberg wrote.
Mr. Turley argued the government's submission does not sufficiently address
his concerns. During the closed hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Leonie
Brinkema granted the defense request to make targeted inquiries of the
government about whether evidence should been turned over. She also granted al-Timimi's
request to be moved from a federal prison to the Alexandria jail, Mr. Turley
Prosecutors had argued there is no reason to move al-Timimi back to
Alexandria because there is no reason to allow further inquiry on the
Mr. Turley said after hearing: "We believe there is a high likelihood that there were undisclosed intercepts of Dr. al-Timimi and material witnesses. Today's hearing was the first step in a process by which we can confirm whether information was withheld."
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