nationalsecuritylaw UNSCR 1973: A No-Fly Zone and More for Libya

March 18, 2011

* UNSCR 1973 (no-fly zone and other forms of force authorized as to Libya)

The full text of UNSCR 1973 (imposing a no-fly zone and then some for Libya) is available by link here, along with a bit of commentary. Summing up, paragraph 8 authorizes a no-fly zone throughout all Libyan territory, while paragraph 4 authorizes all necessary means to protect civilian populations, excluding only occupation forces (but not ground force of a non-occupation nature). In short, air-to-ground force is permissible to protect Benghazi and to otherwise intervene where Gaddafi’s forces can be depicted as threatening civilians.

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Imam (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 15, 2011) (superseding indictment in Najibullah Zazi case)

March 15, 2011

* United States v. Imam (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 15, 2011) (superseding indictment in case involving Najibullah Zazi)

A superseding indictment today relating to the Najibullah Zazi conspiracy case (Zazi himself pled guilty back in February 2010, and one co-defendant also pled in 2010). The new indictment charged a Canadian citizen, Ferid Imam, with a variety of offenses related to the plot. The indictment is attached, and excerpts from the press release appear below:

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – A superseding indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court yesterday charging Ferid Imam, 30, aka “Yousef,” with providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda; aiding and abetting the terrorist training of Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin; and using a destructive device in furtherance of crimes of violence.

The indictment was unsealed in coordination with Canadian authorities, who earlier today announced terrorism charges against Imam, who is a Canadian citizen.

According to the indictment in the Eastern District of New York, Imam aided and abetted Zazi, Ahmedzay and Medunjanin’s receipt of military-type training from al-Qaeda when the three men traveled to Pakistan in 2008. Zazi, Ahmedzay and Medunjanin subsequently returned to the United States to carry out a plot to detonate improvised explosive devices on behalf of al-Qaeda.

This plot was uncovered and disrupted by law enforcement authorities in September 2009. Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the plot on Feb. 22, 2010, while Ahmedzay similarly pleaded guilty on April 23, 2010.

If convicted of the crimes in the indictment, Imam faces between 30 years in prison and life in prison.

Ferid Imam et al Unsealed Indictment EDNY.pdf

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Alessa (D.N.J. Mar. 3, 2011) (guilty pleas in al-Shabaab conspiracy case)

March 14, 2011

* United States v. Alessa, United States v. Almonte (D.N.J. March 3, 2011) (guilty pleas in al-Shabaab conspiracy case)

This case is very interesting from the perspective of the substantive scope of federal criminal law, particularly the capacity to use conspiracy charges in circumstances where the anticipated unlawful objective is relatively distant in time and unspecific in detail. The case involves two men from New Jersey who were arrested at JFK airport last year en route to Somalia, where they had intended to join al-Shabaab. Both men pled under 18 USC 956(a), which criminalizes conspiracies to kill outside the United States. As stated in the press release below, the idea is that the men knew of and intended to partake in al-Shabaab’s activities, including in particular its use of unlawful lethal force against the Somali transitional government and African Union soldiers. From this perspective, I would say the case looks much like the civilian prosecution of Jose Padilla. In any event, the information in each case is attached, and excerpts from the press release appear below:

NEWARK, N.J. – Two New Jersey men arrested at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport last summer pleaded guilty today to conspiring to murder individuals overseas on behalf of a foreign terrorist group operating in Somalia, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Mohamed Hamoud Alessa, 21, of North Bergen, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, aka “Omar,” 24, of Elmwood Park, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to murder persons outside the United States on behalf of designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Al-Shabaab. The defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise in Newark federal court.

On June 5, 2010, Alessa and Almonte were taken into custody by pre-staged arrest teams as they attempted to board separate international flights at JFK International Airport. They have been held in continuous custody since their arrest by order of U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

It was Alessa and Almonte’s aim to travel to a place outside of the United States and murder individuals whose beliefs and practices did not align with their extremist ideology. The defendants admitted that they planned to join Al-Shabaab, an international terrorist group based in Somalia, knowing the group was engaged in carrying out violent attacks against individuals in that country, including members of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and African Union soldiers. As part of this campaign, Al-Shabaab has conducted military assaults, bombings, and other violent acts, and has attempted through its media operations to recruit foreigners – including Americans and other Westerners – to join its ranks.

In October 2006, the FBI received a tip concerning the defendants’ activities. As the investigation continued, a New York Police Department (NYPD) Intelligence Division undercover officer recorded numerous meetings and conversations with them, during which the defendants discussed and prepared to carry out their plan.

The defendants admitted that those preparations included: saving and pooling thousands of dollars; physically conditioning themselves by, among other things, lifting weights and running; engaging in combat simulations using paintball guns, computer software, and other items; acquiring tactical clothing, hydration systems, knives, night-vision optics, and other equipment; and purchasing airline tickets to Egypt with the intent to then travel to Somalia. They also admitted that as part of their plan, Alessa and Almonte had traveled to Jordan in February 2007 and while there, inquired about opportunities to meet with groups committed to establishing Islamic law through violence.

Additionally, Alessa and Almonte admitted that they acquired, viewed, and displayed for others audio, video, and written materials – produced by and relating to Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and other extremist groups – which advocated, depicted, and/or sought to justify the killing of individuals who opposed them, including civilians.

The charge to which Alessa and Almonte pleaded guilty carries a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under the terms of their plea agreements, the defendants agreed not to request a sentence of less than 15 years in prison, while the government agreed not to request a sentence of more than 30 years. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on June 20, 2011.

Alessa, Mohamed Information.pdf

Almonte, Carlos Information.pdf

nationalsecuritylaw upcoming event: 2011 Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights: The Role of Accountability in Protecting Human Rights & National Security

March 11, 2011

* Upcoming event: 2011 Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights: The Role of Accountability in Protecting Human Rights & National Security (Georgetown, Mar. 15)

Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights:

The Role of Accountability in Protecting Human Rights and National Security

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Georgetown Law | Gewirz Student Center, 12th floor | 120 F Street NW | Washington, DC

Sponsored by: Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute,

Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security and the Law, and Human Rights First

Please register for the conference by clicking here.

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Registration, Breakfast, Welcome

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Panel 1: Addressing the State Secrets Privilege

· Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, The Constitution Project

· Daryl Joseffer, Partner, King & Spaulding LLP; former Principal Deputy U.S. Solicitor General

· Eric Lichtblau, National Security Reporter, The New York Times

· Heather Sawyer, Counsel, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

· Moderator: Laura Donohue, Associate Professor and Acting Director, Center for National Security and the Law, Georgetown Law

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Panel 2: Pursuing Accountability for Human Rights Violations in the National Security Context: Domestic, Regional, and International Strategies

· Katherine Gallagher, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights

· James A. Goldston, Executive Director, Open Society Justice Initiative

· Ben Wizner, Litigation Director, National Security Project, American Civil Liberties Union

· Moderator: Melina Milazzo, Pennoyer Fellow, Human Rights First

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lunch Remarks by Robert F. Muse, Partner, Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Panel 3: Accountability for Private Security Contractors

· Ilona Cohen, Majority Counsel, Senate Committee on Armed Services

· Mark DeWitt, Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Triple Canopy

· Richard Fontaine, Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security

· Jason Pielemeier, Special Advisor, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State

· Moshe Schwartz, Specialist in Defense Acquisition Policy, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service

· Moderator: Devon Chaffee, Advocacy Counsel, Human Rights First

2011 Dash Conference Agenda.doc

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Salad (E.D. Va. Mar. 10, 2011) (piracy indictment)

March 11, 2011

* United States v. Salad (E.D. Va. Mar. 10, 2011) (piracy indictment in the recent case in which several US citizens were killed)

The indictment is attached, and excerpts from the press release appear below:

NORFOLK, Va. – A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia has indicted 13 Somalis and one Yemeni with pirating a yacht and taking hostage four U.S. citizens, who were ultimately killed before their release could be secured.

The indictment was returned on March 8, 2011, and remained sealed until the defendants made their initial appearances before a magistrate judge in Norfolk.

According to a three-count indictment, 14 alleged pirates boarded an American sailing vessel named the Quest on Feb. 18, 2011, and held four U.S. citizens hostage for five days. The U.S. military negotiated with the alleged pirates to attempt to free the hostages. As the military continued its negotiations, at least one of the alleged pirates on board the Quest fired an RPG at a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Sterett. That same day – without provocation – at least three of the men on the Quest allegedly intentionally shot and killed the four hostages before their release could be secured.

Following the shooting of the hostages, the Somalis on the high seas were taken into custody by the U.S. military. The indictment states that the alleged pirates possessed an RPG and several AK-47 and FAL assault rifles and that the defendants threw overboard additional weapons prior to being taken into custody.

All 14 men were charged with piracy, which carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison. In addition, the indictment also charges them with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the use of a destructive device during a crime of violence. The latter charge carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, which would run consecutive to all other charges.

Salad et al_indictment.pdf

nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Ramirez (E.D. Pa. Mar. 8, 2011) (guilty plea – material support, conpsiracy to kill, false statements, id theft)

March 10, 2011

* United States v. Ramirez (E.D. Pa. Mar. 8, 2011) (guilty plea – material support, conpsiracy to kill, false statements, id theft)

The plea agreement is attached. The press release is excerpted below:

WASHINGTON – Jamie Paulin Ramirez, 32, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Colorado, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Ramirez faces a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing.

Ramirez was first charged in a superseding indictment filed in April 2010, along with co-defendant Colleen R. LaRose, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Montgomery County, Pa. On Feb. 1, 2011, LaRose, aka “JihadJane, aka “Fatima LaRose,” pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements and attempted identity theft.

According to documents filed with the court, Ramirez, LaRose and others conspired to obtain military-style training in South Asia and then traveled to and around Europe to participate in and in support of violent jihad.

In a series of electronic communications dated July 19, 2009, one co-conspirator (identified as CC#2 in the superseding indictment) directed another to recruit online “some brothers that can travel freely . . . with eu passports . . . [A]nd I also need some sisters too.” The co-conspirator further explained that “sister fatima will be in charge of other sister care. . . .[W]e have already organized everything for her. . . . [W]e are will[ing] to die in order to protect her no matter what the risk is.”

Ramirez exchanged e-mail messages with LaRose during the summer of 2009, in which LaRose invited Ramirez to join her in Europe to attend a training camp. For example, on Aug. 1, 2009, LaRose sent electronic communications to Ramirez stating that “soon i will be moving to Europe to be with other brothers & sisters . . . . when i get to europe, i will send for you to come be with me there . . . . [T]his place will be like a training camp as well as a home.”

In electronic communications dated on or about August 7, 2009, CC #2 recruited another individual to find brothers and sisters to go to a “camp for [military-style] training . . . and th[e]n come back to europe to do the job . . . . [T]he job is to [k]nock down some individual[s] that are harming islam.” CC#2 goes on to explain that he is structuring “an ORGANIZATION” divided into a “plan[n]ing team . . . research team . . . action team . . . recruitment team . . . finance team.”

Ramirez accepted LaRose’s invitation to travel to Europe and asked to bring along her minor male child. On Sept, 12, 2009, Ramirez traveled to Ireland with her child with the intent to live and train with jihadists. The day after she arrived in Ireland, Ramirez married CC#2, whom she had never before met in person, in an Islamic ceremony, knowing and intending that her presence in Europe, her marriage to CC#2 and her future actions would provide support for the conspiracy.

Plea Memo – Paulin-Ramirez.pdf

nationalsecuritylaw reminder: terrific opportunity for students interested in national security and the law

March 10, 2011

The folks organizing the Tikvah-Hertog Summer Institute on Law and National Security have asked me to send out a reminder about the program. It really does look like a great opportunity. Here’s the original announcement:

From: Robert Chesney
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 9:46 PM
Subject: terrific opportunity for students interested in national security and the law

* Tikvah-Hertog Summer Institute on Law and National Security (Columbia Law, July 31st to August 9)

This is going to be really cool. Please pass this along to any students who might be interested (see the attached flyer as well).

The Tikvah Fund and the Hertog Foundation, two private foundations, are sponsoring the Tikvah-Hertog Summer Institute on Law and National Security, which will take place under the auspices of Columbia Law School from July 31 to August 9. The Institute will offer 20 to 25 law and other graduate students an intensive program of study and discussion focusing on the complex intersection of two fundamental Western principles: the need for national security and adherence to the rule of law. The Institute’s website is at The Institute’s flyer, which appears on the website, is attached here for ease of reference.

The program will be led by Philip Bobbitt of Columbia. The other core faculty members will be Jack Goldsmith of Harvard, Sam Rascoff of NYU, and Gabriella Blum of Harvard. Students will spend each morning with core faculty studying texts on the issues of domestic and international law that arise when a liberal society faces heightened threats to its national security.

In the afternoons, students and core faculty will be joined by an extremely interesting group of outside scholars and policymakers, whose names appear on the website, for further discussion of the issues raised in the morning sessions.

The program is open to law students, including those who are about to enter or have just graduated from law school, and to graduate students in related fields. Students will be provided with meals and lodging at Columbia Law School. The program is free, and each student who is accepted will receive a stipend of $1,000.

In sum, the Institute will provide an excellent experience and a good deal for those students who are up to the program’s demands.

Tikvah Law Flyer.pdf