The LWOT: Guilty plea in Maryland terrorism case

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Guilty plea in Maryland terrorism case

U.S. citizen and Muslim convert Antonio Martinez pleaded guilty on January 26 to one charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a government installation for trying to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a military recruitment center on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland in December 2010, in retaliation for what he perceived as an American war against Islam (AP). An FBI informant began communicating with Martinez on Facebook after seeing posts "espousing his extremist views," and on Martinez's orders filmed a video statement of him pledging commitment to jihad on the way to the recruiting center, where he "armed" the fake car bomb and was immediately arrested.

Court documents unsealed on January 26 reveal that Hysen Sherifi, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison on January 13 for his involvement in a North Carolina terror cell, also wanted to have witnesses who testified against him beheaded (AP). The FBI has arrested Sherifi's brother, Shkumbin Sherifi, and friend, Nevine Aly Elsheikh, who gave an FBI informant posing as a hit man $5,000 and a photograph of the intended victim.

A FedEx driver identified as 27-year-old Kevin Coleman was charged on January 25 with count of threat of terrorism for making a joke to the recipient of a package at the Army Corps of Engineers in Utah that the package was probably a bomb (APNPR).

NYPD commissioner apologizes for video

Muslim human rights groups on January 25 demanded that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly resign after it came to light that he repeatedly showed his officers an offensive video entitled "The Third Jihad: Radical Islam's Vision for America," which makes the claim that Muslim leaders in the United States aim to "infiltrate and dominate America" (Reuters). Kelly, who also sat for an interview that appears in the documentary, apologized on Wednesday and acknowledged that the NYPD was wrong to screen the documentary to its officers, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in the condemnation of the video (APAP).

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, agreed unanimously on January 23 to reject an effort by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla to reinstate a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for approving the use of harsh interrogation methods on Padilla and for erroneously labeling him an "enemy combatant" in order to get around his constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen (APSCOTUS).

Cameron warns against court overreach

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned in a speech to the Council of Europe on January 24 that the European Court of Human Rights has too many powers to overrule national governments, damaging Britain's ability to defend itself from terrorists (Tel). The speech comes just a week after the European court ruled that the radical cleric Abu Qatada may not be deported from the United Kingdom on the grounds that he may not receive a fair trial in his native country of Jordan.

An Ethiopian court on January 26 sentenced three journalists, Elias Kifle, Woubshet Taye and Reeyot Alemu to jail for terrorism-related crimes, though Amnesty International calls the trip "prisoners of conscience" who did not commit crimes (Bloomberg,Reuters). Kifle, who runs a U.S.-based newspaper and was convicted in absentia, received a life sentence, while Taye and Alemu both received 14 years.

Finally, Uzbek-born Russian citizen Sanjarbek Satvaldiev went on trial on Janaury 24 in Andijan, Uzbekistan accused of belonging to several foreign terrorist organizations including Hizb ut-Tahrir, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda (RIALocal).

Trials and Tribulations

  • The wife John Kiriakou, who is accused of revealing to journalists the identities of covert CIA officers, resigned on January 23 from her position as a senior analyst at the Agency (Post).
  • Jonathan "Jack" Idema, who was convicted of running a prison in Afghanistan where detainees were tortured for information, died on January 21 of AIDs in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (AP).
  • A suicide car bomb attack detonated near a funeral procession in a largely-Shi'a area of Baghdad on January 27 killed at least 32 people (AP).

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images


The LWOT: Denver man charged with material support

Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation bring you a twice weekly brief on the legal war on terror. You can read it on or get it delivered directly to your inbox -- just sign up here.

Denver man charged with material support

The FBI on January 21 arrested an Uzbek refugee, Jamshid Muhtorov, who appeared in court on January 23 charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists for allegedly planning to travel to Pakistan to fight alongside the extremist Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) (CNNAPReuters). Muhtorov was arrested at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport before he could board a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, but he is from Aurora, Colorado, the same Denver suburb that admitted New York City bomb-plotter Najibullah Zazi hailed from.

Members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided a home in an Orlando suburb on January 19 as part of an ongoing investigation (Orlando Sentinel). Neighbors claim the family living at the searched house is connected to an anti-government movement called the Sovereign Citizens.

The Department of Justice on January 23 accused a former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, with disclosing classified information to two reporters, including the identity of a CIA analyst involved in the 2002 hunt for -- and harsh interrogation of -- suspected al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah (NYTAPLATWSJCNN). Kiriakou is charged with violating the Espionage Act and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, as well as lying to CIA and FBI officials

Real IRA suspect convicted

Brian Shivers, a suspected member of the dissident Northern Irish group, the Real IRA, was convicted on January 20 of murdering two British soldiers in Antrim, Northern Ireland in March 2009, while his co-accused Colin Duffy was acquitted and later claimed his DNA had been planted in the getaway car used after the attack (GuardianAFPTel,Deutsche WelleCNNAFPBBCIndependent).

On January 23 a jury was chosen in the trial of nine men accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Embassy in London and the London Stock Exchange, though authorities have declined to say whether the plots were linked to any foreign terrorist organization (AP). The suspects, all of whom have pleaded not guilty, were arrested in December 2010 in one of Britain's largest counterterrorism raids.

Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit officers broke up a meeting at a Cardiff community center on January 19 following a tip from a member of the local Muslim community that the participants were linked to the banned Muslims Against Crusaders group (BBCBBC). One man was charged under the Public Order Act, but none were accused of involvement with terrorism.

Indian police announced on January 23 that they had arrested two suspects in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, 22-year-old Naqi Ahmed Sheikh and 23-year-old Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaq Sheikh, in connection with the three bomb blasts that ripped through Mumbai in July 2011, killing 27 people (AFPBBCWSJAPCNNNYT). The young men are believed to have taken orders from the alleged mastermind, Yasin Bhatkal, who is still at large and has been linked to the extremist Indian Mujahideen.

Finally, a Nigerian military task force on January 24 arrested 158 suspected members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for a series of bombs and shootings in Kano, Nigeria that killed over 200 people (CNN). Police in Kano said they had foiled new attacks on January 23 after finding ten cars packed with explosives as well as hundreds of other homemade explosive devices (AFP). However, residents of Kano say Nigerian security forces on January 24 also killed a man and his pregnant wife, who were not believed by neighbors to have links to Boko Haram (AP).

U.N. rights chief "disturbed" by U.S. failures

On January 23, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called the arbitrary and indefinite detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay a "clear breach of international law" (AP). She added that she is "disturbed at the failure to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations, including torture." 

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is reportedly planning to release the legal justification behind its decision to order a drone strike that killed an American citizen, radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (Newsweek). The Obama administration is also reportedly considering the repatriation of most of the non-Afghan detainees being held at the United States' largest prison in Afghanistan near Bagram Air Base (Post).

Trials and Tribulations

  • An Ethiopian high court on January 19 convicted three journalists and a politician of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, provoking an outcry from human rights groups who believe the country's anti-terrorism laws are being abused for political means (AP).
  • The Palestinian Authority on January 20 condemned Israel's January 19 arrest of Hamas politician and speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Dweik, who the Israeli military said is ""suspected of being involved in the activities of a terrorist group" (AFPBBCCNN).
  • U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul, son of presidential hopeful Ron Paul, was briefly detained on January 23 at an airport in Nashville, Tennessee after setting off the alarm at the security checkpoint and refusing a pat-down (ReutersAP,LATAFP).  

Scott Olson/Getty Images