The LWOT: Guilty plea in Maryland terrorism case

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Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

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).

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