WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors filed additional charges Tuesday against Lebanese terrorist suspect Fawaz Younis, who was arrested by FBI agents in the Mediterranean last month in connection with the 1985 hijacking and destruction of a Jordanian airliner.
At the same time, Younis' attorney told U.S. District Judge Barrington D. Parker that he soon will file motions challenging the expanded indictment. The attorney, Francis D. Carter, refused to describe his motions, but they are expected to contend, in part, that statements the hijacking suspect gave to FBI agents were not entirely voluntary because of injuries he suffered after his arrest.
Pleads Not Guilty
The new charges, to which Younis pleaded not guilty at a court hearing, include air piracy, performing acts of violence, damaging an aircraft and placing a destructive device aboard an aircraft. Previously, Younis had been charged with conspiracy, hostage-taking and destruction of an aircraft, to which he had also pleaded not guilty.
"It simply gives us a few more arrows for our quiver," a federal source, who spoke on condition that he not be identified, explained.
The new charges would not increase the punishment Younis could receive because, under the earlier ones, he already could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. But prosecutors believe that the additional counts increase the likelihood of conviction on at least some charges and could give them more bargaining power if Younis should attempt to negotiate a plea agreement, the federal source said.
Younis is accused of masterminding the June 11, 1985, hijacking of a Royal Jordanian airliner on which four Americans were passengers. The 30-hour ordeal ended when the five hijackers released all on board and then detonated a bomb on the aircraft.
It was disclosed last month that Younis, 28, who is the first foreign terrorism suspect to be captured overseas under special new anti-terrorism legislation, suffered hairline fractures of both wrists after his arrest by undercover FBI agents.
FBI officials have said that Younis never struggled with them and was treated well but that he might have hurt his wrists as he was being transferred in handcuffs from a yacht, to which he had been lured for capture, to a larger vessel for return to the United States.
J. Ramsey Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney, told Parker that the injuries apparently occurred "during the course of his initial arrest at sea." Johnson said of the injuries that U.S. authorities "were both concerned and frankly surprised."
Carter said that an orthopedic surgeon who examined Younis on Monday concluded that the injuries "had to come from either Mr. Younis' entire weight of his body falling onto his hands . . . or he would have had to have swung his hands and hit something with his palms flat out."
Suspect May Sue
In dismissing the second possibility, Carter said that "there is no indication Mr. Younis took any offensive action" after his arrest. He added that the injuries "may be the subject of some subsequent litigation."
Carter said later outside the courtroom that he believes Younis was injured "when he was slammed to the deck of the yacht as he was arrested. He complained a lot thereafter about his wrists, but all the agents did was put ice on them."