Jury Convicts in Albany Terrorism Sting Case
Notwithstanding the great efforts by defense lawyers, including Terry Kindlon, an Albany federal jury has convicted two Muslims of terrorism charges in a sting case that has come to be known as the "Doogie Howswer" terror case.
Two Muslim immigrants who were targeted in an FBI sting were convicted on Tuesday of charges they supported terrorism by taking part in a fictitious plot to launder money from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile.
The case had galvanized the area's Muslim-American community, many of whom accused the FBI of using a manipulative and underhanded informant to unfairly target two hardworking immigrants who had no criminal history or direct links to any terrorist figures.
As for the verdicts:
Yassin M. Aref, 36, a Kurdish refugee from northern Iraq whom the FBI identified as their "ultimate target," was found not guilty on 20 of 30 counts filed against him. But Aref was convicted of several key charges, including money laundering and conspiracy to support terrorism, arguably diminishing the effect of the jury's acquittals on two-thirds of the indictment against him.
Mohammed M. Hossain, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh who arrived in the United States more than 20 years ago aboard a cargo ship, was found guilty on all 27 counts he faced, including conspiracy to support terrorism. Hossain, who co-founded the Central Avenue mosque where Aref was the spiritual leader, owns a pizzeria and was targeted only because of his close relationship with Aref, authorities said.
Hossain's defense had been entrapment. His lawyer said he had been prepared for the outcome.
U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy immediately revoked Hossain's $250,000 bond. As U.S. marshals quickly flanked him, Hossain handed his suit jacket, necktie, watch, belt and other belongings to his attorney, Kevin A. Luibrand. Although Hossain had privately cried on his way to court at times during the monthlong trial, he did not show emotion at the verdicts.
"Today is my victory," he said loudly, turning to face the public clearing from the courtroom. "We are going to accept it peacefully. ... Thank you so much, for everyone."
From Terry Kindlon, who represented Aref:
Terence L. Kindlon, Aref's attorney, said late Tuesday he was still trying to decipher how the jury cleared Aref on 20 charges. They included several money-laundering counts that applied to dates when the jury determined he was already involved a conspiracy.
"We have to figure it out," Kindlon said. "We're profoundly disappointed, of course, but at the same time very energized by all of the good news that was in this verdict." He was referring to the jury's acquittal on 20 counts, which he said might significantly affect Aref's potential prison sentence.
The Government's evidence:
The investigation relied on the efforts of an undercover informant, Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who was convicted in 2002 of abusing his position as a government translator to funnel driver's licenses to dozens of immigrants for fees of up to $1,000 cash each.
When he was caught by the FBI, Hussain, who used the street name "Malik," which means "king of kings," agreed to work as a turncoat witness in a series of FBI investigations in hopes he would be granted leniency on his own conviction: a federal document-fraud charge that carries maximum penalties of up to 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and possible deportation.
Federal authorities credited Hussain with the arrests of 11 people before this sting began. But his role in this case was more pronounced, including having to testify, and he spent a year wearing a recording device to dozens of meetings with Aref and Hossain.
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