MENU

HOME

DAILY BRIEF

LATEST POSTS

J.M. BERGER

ISIS: STATE OF TERROR

JIHAD JOE

LINKS

Blogs of War

Hizballah Cavalcade

Internet Haganah

Jihadology

Jihadica

Kremlin Trolls

Making Sense of Jihad

Selected Wisdom

Views from the Occident

TAGS

American Terrorists

Anwar Awlaki

Al Qaeda

AQAP

American Al Qaeda Members

Inspire Magazine

Revolution Muslim

OKBOMB


News, documents and analysis on violent extremism


Monday, June 13, 2011
 

Shadow of Ali Mohamed Hangs Over Nosair Appeal

The New York Times reports today that New York-area jihadist El Sayyid Nosair is appealing his sentence for terrorism-related conspiracy in the 1995 prosecution that brought down the "blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman.

The heart of Nosair's appeal revolves around Al Qaeda's mysterious spy, Ali Mohamed, who successfully infiltrated the U.S. Army during the 1980s, partially succeeded in infiltrating the FBI and was thwarted in a similar attempt against the CIA.

Nosair's argument, the kernel of which has been covered on this site and in my new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, is that prosecutors concealed Mohamed's location from the defense, which wanted to subpoena him as a witness.

First thing first: Mohamed's participation in the case would not have made a material difference in Nosair's verdict. His conviction was based on a raft of evidence pertaining to his assassination of radical rabbi Meir Kahane in November 1990 and his direction of other terrorist attempts from prison afterward.

Mohamed provided Nosair and others with training and support materials. Nosair's attorney wanted to argue that Mohamed (who was active duty Army at the time) was providing this support with the blessing of the U.S. government as training for the group to fight in Afghanistan alongside CIA-allied mujahideen.

The pertinence of this is pretty obviously flimsy, since Nosair never went to Afghanistan but instead worked on terrorist attacks in the greater New York area. Even if he had received training with government support, that wouldn't excuse his illegal actions any more than going through the police academy would excuse someone who later went on a shooting spree.

That said, the question of Mohamed's handling by federal officials, more broadly, has significant public interest outside of the context of Nosair.

Mohamed started acting as a double-agent informant for the FBI in 1991. He had been called back to the country by the FBI for questioning in the Nosair trial in late 1994 -- a very busy period for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, who were in the late stages of planning to bomb U.S. bound airliners (a plot soon to be disrupted) and in the early stages of the East African embassy bombing plot that would come to fruition in 1998. The details of Mohamed's relationship with the government is still murky.

The evidence suggests that some give and take took place during the Justice Department's 1994 meetings with Mohamed. In December 1994, according to court records, the lead prosecutor in the Nosair case, Andrew McCarthy, exchanged faxes with Mohamed concerning the subpoena issued by Nosair's attorney. McCarthy did not respond to my repeated requests for an interview about these faxes and other issues over the course of the last few years. The faxes may be explained by today's NYT report which states:
Far from keeping his whereabouts secret from the defense, the government has said in court papers that officials extracted an agreement from Mr. Mohamed, who met with the authorities in 1994, to be available for the trial, but that Mr. Nosair’s lawyers did not ask for help in securing his presence. “Mohamed simply was not suppressed,” prosecutors wrote.

I'd like to see exactly what those documents say, and they may turn up in the course of this case. I noted that while most of Nosair's filings in his appeal are available on PACER (and will eventually be posted here), none of the government's filings could be obtained as of this morning.

Finally, a note on the NYT's headline, it's not strictly accurate to refer to Nosair as a "convicted Al Qaeda agent." Even with a fairly loose definition of what it means to be an Al Qaeda agent (more on this in a day or two), it's a stretch to say Nosair was part of Al Qaeda in a meaningful sense -- based on the evidence as it currently stands. "Convicted Al Qaeda agent" also implies that he was convicted of being an Al Qaeda agent, which is flatly untrue. The story itself does not claim Nosair was a member or agent of Al Qaeda.

For much more about Ali Mohamed and Sayyid Nosair, buy J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, out now!

Labels: , , , , ,



Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.


     



     

Tweets referencing this post:

loading..



BOOKS

"...smart, granular analysis..."

ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

More on ISIS: The State of Terror

"...a timely warning..."

Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

More on Jihad Joe

ABOUT

INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.

RECENT

Newest posts!

Ayman Al Zawahiri Releases Video Eulogy For Osama ...

Jihad Joe Featured On Front Page Of Toronto's Nati...

Tahawwur Rana Interrogation Video, Questions About...

Surveillance Footage Shot By American Terrorist Da...

Terry Nichols' Handwritten Notes And Letters Relea...

The Inspire Paperboy Missed My Porch

Secrets of 9/11: Watch In HD Now

Adam Gadahn Video Adds Emphasis To Al Qaeda's Grow...

Two Iraqis Indicted In Kentucky For Supporting Al ...

Charting Bin Laden's Death Among Arabic-Speaking H...

EXCLUSIVES


New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim

The Utility of Lone Wolves

Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser

A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds

How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You

PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement

Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips

Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums

U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki

State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh

State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995

FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs

Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War

U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001

Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting