al-Harbi v. Obama (D.D.C. 6/1/10) (granting habeas to GTMO detainee Ravil Mingazov)

June 4, 2010

* al-Harbi v. Obama (D.D.C. 6/1/10) (granting habeas to GTMO detainee Ravil Mingazov)

Back in May we learned that Judge Kennedy granted habeas relief to GTMO detainee Ravil Mingazov, a Russian citizen sometimes described in the media as the Russian “dancer” detainee because of his past training in ballet. In any event, the unclassified opinion is now available, and attached to this email. It turns primarily on the question of whether to credit Mingazov’s own inculpatory statements to various interrogators at GTMO. Mingazov argued that he exaggerated his own past conduct and associations in order to avoid being transferred back to Russia, and now recants those statements. Ultimately, Judge Kennedy credits the recantations, and finds that the government without those statements lacks sufficient evidence to support its allegations.

Mingazov – Unclassified Opinion.pdf

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Upcoming Event at Brookings: A Conversation with David Kris, AAG for the National Security Division (June 11th)

June 4, 2010

* Upcoming Event at Brookings: A Conversation with David Kris, AAG for the National Security Division (June 11th)

Not to be missed if you can possibly make it. David is a terrific speaker, has an extraordinarily important job, and does not often appear in such settings. Details below:

Event Announcement

Law Enforcement as a Counterterrorism Tool

A Conversation with Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris

Friday, June 11, 2010, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Brookings Institution, Saul-Zilkha Rooms, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.

With prosecutions under way involving the alleged Times Square bomber and the accused Christmas Day airline bomber, the disruption of an al-Qaeda plot to attack the subways in Manhattan, and the conviction of a key figure in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the U.S. Department of Justice has had a number of high-profile counterterrorism successes of late. Under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, how does the administration view combating the ongoing threat of terrorism, preventing future attacks and prosecuting suspected terrorists? Read the rest of this entry »


United States v. Akl (N.D. Ohio June 3, 2010)

June 4, 2010

* United States v. Akl (N.D. Ohio June 3, 2010)

Another material support prosecution, this one involving a couple from Toledo, dual citizens of the US and Lebanon, charged with conspiring to send money to Hezbollah. Press release excerpts below, arrest affidavit attached:

TOLEDO Two residents of Toledo, Ohio, Hor I. Akl, age 37, and his spouse, Amera A. Akl, age 37, both of whom are dual citizens of the United States and Lebanon, were arrested today on charges that they conspired to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, conspired to launder money, and committed arson relating to an insurance fraud scheme. Hor Akl is also charged with two counts of bankruptcy fraud and one count of perjury, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach announced today. The Akls were arrested this morning without incident and are expected to make their initial appearance in federal court in Toledo at 3:30 p.m. today.

According to the criminal complaint filed earlier today, from on or about Aug. 30, 2009, to the present, the Akls conspired to provide material support to Hizballah, which was designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997, and remains so today. According to the complaint, the Akls agreed to send money to the terrorist organization Hizballah after they were approached by a confidential informant for the FBI who claimed he worked for an anonymous donor eager to support Hizballah. The couple researched and proposed at least ten different ways in which the money could be shipped to Hizballah, the complaint alleges.

The complaint alleges that the Akls ultimately agreed to conceal approximately $500,000 in the hollow sections of a vehicle and to ship the vehicle to Lebanon, where they would remove the cash and give it to Hizballah officials on behalf of the purported anonymous donors in the United States. The Akls expected to receive a fee or commission for arranging the transfer of funds. The complaint alleges that in March 2010, Hor Akl traveled to Lebanon to make arrangements for the delivery of the funds to Hizballah. Akl allegedly returned to the United States claiming that he had met with Hizballah officials.

The complaint further alleges that, during the investigation, the Akls discussed multiple criminal violations in the past, including bulk cash smuggling of large amounts of currency to Lebanon, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury related to bankruptcy fraud, and concealing property in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The maximum statutory penalties upon conviction are: for conspiring to provide material support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000; for money laundering conspiracy, up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000; for each of the offenses of bankruptcy fraud, and perjury, up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000; and for the arson offense, up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Akl Affidavit.pdf


United States v. Bujol (S.D. Tex. June 3, 2010)

June 4, 2010

* United States v. Bujol (S.D. Tex. June 3, 2010)

A new material support prosecution, this one involving a man alleged linked to Anwar al-Aulaqi. Press release excerpts appear below, and the indictment is attached:

HOUSTON – A federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas returned an indictment today charging Barry Walter Bujol Jr., with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers announced today.

The indictment charges Bujol, 29, a U.S. citizen and resident of Hempstead, Texas, with attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the form of personnel, currency, pre-paid telephone calling cards, mobile telephone SIM cards, global positioning system receivers, public access-restricted U.S. military publications, including one involving unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations and another involving the effects of U.S. military weapon systems in operations in Afghanistan, as well as a military-issue compass and other materials. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is 15 years in prison.

The second count of the two-count indictment charges Bujol with aggravated identity theft, alleging that in furtherance of the material support to a designated terrorist organization charge, he possessed and used a false government-issued identification card. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is five years in prison, which must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on other counts.

The charges resulted from a long-term investigation that culminated on May 30, 2010, when Bujol boarded a ship docked at a Houston-area port. According to court documents unsealed today, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Bujol in 2008 and determined he had been communicating via e-mail with Anwar al-Aulaqi, a known associate and propagandist for AQAP. Among other things, the court documents allege that Al-Aulaqi had provided Bujol with a document entitled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad,” and that Bujol had asked Al-Aulaqi for advice on how to provide money to the “mujahideen” overseas. In addition, Bujol made three unsuccessful attempts during February and March 2009 to depart the country and travel overseas to Yemen or the Middle East, according to the court documents.

Beginning in November 2009, the FBI introduced into the investigation a confidential human source (CHS) whom Bujol believed to be an AQAP operative. Over the ensuing months, the court documents allege, Bujol repeatedly expressed to the CHS his desire to travel overseas to fight in violent jihad for AQAP. The CHS provided Bujol with a false identification card provided by the FBI bearing Bujol’s photograph. Bujol used this card to gain access to the secure area of the port with the alleged intention of boarding a ship bound for the Middle East. Afterwards, the CHS gave Bujol currency, pre-paid telephone calling cards, mobile telephone SIM cards, global positioning system receivers, public access-restricted U.S. military publications, including one involving UAV operations and another involving the effects of U.S. military weapon systems in operations in Afghanistan, as well as a military-issue compass and other materials, which Bujol had allegedly agreed to courier to notional AQAP operatives in a Middle Eastern country. Shortly after Bujol boarded the ship with the material, FBI agents arrested him.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacey has ordered related search warrants for Bujol’s apartment at the Pine Meadows Apartments in Hempstead, Texas, and for his laptop computer unsealed today. Those search warrants were executed on May 30, 2010, as well. The United States has asked the court to hold Bujol in federal custody without bond pending trial. A hearing on the government’s motion is set for Tuesday, June 8, 2010, at 2:00 p.m.

Bujol Indictment.pdf