Thursday, March 30, 2006

Virginia muslim gets 30 years for assassination conspiracy

Next up on the good news list:


Prosecutors had asked for the maximum — a life sentence — for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Va.

"The facts of this case are still astonishing," prosecutor David Laufman said. "Barely a year after Sept. 11 the defendant joined the organization responsible for 3,000 deaths."

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said 30 years was sufficient punishment. He compared the Abu Ali case to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who received a 20-year sentence... Prosecutors had asked for the maximum — a life sentence — for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Va.

"The facts of this case are still astonishing," prosecutor David Laufman said. "Barely a year after Sept. 11 the defendant joined the organization responsible for 3,000 deaths."

But U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said 30 years was sufficient punishment. He compared the Abu Ali case to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, who received a 20-year sentence.
[Link]

Much more information is available here at the Jawa Report. There’s been some commentary about the proper sentence for treason being the death penalty, and I agree. However, that’s not was Ali was charged with. I guess you’d have to take that up with the prosecutors. My reaction to the judge’s comment, comparing Ali to Walker Lindh, isn’t a matter of Ali getting 10 more years than Lindh. It’s that Lindh only got 20 years. That guy tried to light off a bomb in a passenger aircraft and he only got 20 years?

Note this little item near the end of the story:

In February, defense lawyers asked for a review of the conviction in light of the disclosure that the Bush administration had eavesdropped on suspected terrorists' conversations without search warrants. Abu Ali's lawyers said they suspected, but had no firm evidence, that Abu Ali had been a target of the surveillance program.

The government's response was not made public, but the judge decided to go ahead with the sentencing after receiving it.


Thank you, New York Times, for handing the defense a ready-made trial-delaying tool. Unfortunately, this probably backfired on them when the general consensus came out in the judiciary that the surveillance program was legal. The judge in this case likely got to get a brief on the communications Ali had been having with known terror cells abroad and that couldn’t have been too helpful to the defense. Come to think of it, that might have weighed in on the judge’s decision on the length of the sentence.