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Judge Wants More Time in Terror Suspects' Hearing

September 19, 2002|From Reuters

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A bail hearing for five U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent alleged to be Al Qaeda supporters was adjourned without a ruling Wednesday after federal prosecutors argued that their crime was one of violence and they should be denied bail.

The five men--Yasein Taher, 24; Faysal Galab, 26; Sahim Alwan, 29; Yahya Goba, 25; and Shafal Mosed, 24--are all charged with providing "material support" to Al Qaeda, the militant Islamic network led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden that the U.S. blames for last year's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Although the men had no direct connection to the attacks, investigators allege they were trained to use assault rifles and other weapons at an Al Qaeda-run camp in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.

The charges of providing, attempting to provide and conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

"This is a crime of violence," Assistant U.S. Atty. William Hochul argued, adding that the defendants should be denied bail because they "pose a threat of flight."

Defense attorneys for the men, all residents of a small Yemeni community in the faded steel town of Lackawanna, N.Y., near Buffalo, were expected to present their arguments today.

They have said the five are innocent and presented motions Wednesday to have the case dismissed and the men freed.

Hochul requested 10 days to reply to the motions.

Federal magistrate H. Kenneth Schroeder indicated that he would not rule from the bench on whether to grant the men bail, but instead would issue a ruling after considering the arguments.

"I will attempt to balance all of the rights: the rights of the community to be safe and the rights of the defendants who are presumed to be innocent," Schroeder said.

"It's my intention to put the government to the test."

While in Afghanistan, the five allegedly were lectured on holy war and the use of suicide as a weapon, investigators said.

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