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'Jihad Jane' Terror Suspect To Plead Guilty
An Algerian-born al-Qaeda operative accused of recruiting Montgomery County’s infamous “Jihad Jane” in a 2009 plot to assassinate a Swedish artist has told a federal court in Philadelphia that he intends to plead guilty to terrorism charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
Ali Charaf Damache, 52, is scheduled to admit his guilt before U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker in a hearing Monday. That would bring an end to the region’s longest running and most notable terrorism case – one given new life after Damache’s 2017 extradition from Spain, six years after he was charged.
Damache’s attorney, Noah Gorson, did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday.
But the fact that Damache’s case was being pursued here at all was seen at the time of his extradition as a significant test of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ earlier calls for foreign-born terrorism defendants to be tried by military tribunals instead.
Sessions has argued that accused terrorists from abroad do not deserve the same legal rights as citizens tried in U.S. courts and suggested that hosting trials for them within the country’s borders poses a security risk.
But since Damache arrived from Spain, he has remained in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia – just blocks from the building where a federal grand jury indicted him in 2011.
Damache spent years fighting his extradition from Ireland, where he had been living when he was charged, and eventually won a 2015 court battle there preventing his extradition to the United States.
Months later he surfaced in Spain, where authorities detained him in a Barcelona hotel room and ultimately handed him over to U.S. authorities.
Prosecutors have accused Damache of using jihadist websites between 2008 and 2011 to recruit several Americans for a cell he hoped to establish for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in Algeria.
Known by his online nickname, “the Black Flag,” he allegedly sought out light-skinned women and others who did not fit the traditional terrorist profile.
His targets at the time included Colleen LaRose, a blue-eyed, blond-haired Pennsburg woman who used the moniker “Jihad Jane” to post jihadist screeds to YouTube; Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a single mother from Colorado; and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, a former high school honors student from Maryland who became, at the time of his guilty plea, the youngest person convicted in the U.S. on terrorism charges.
According to court filings, Damache eventually persuaded LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez to join him in Ireland with promises that they would launch an attack on Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist whose drawings of Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog offended some Muslims.
The plot, however, fizzled out, and LaRose, Paulin-Ramirez, and Khalid were arrested.
At her sentencing hearing in 2014, LaRose still spoke of Damache with admiration.
“I had so much respect for him. I had this emotional attachment to him,” she told Tucker. “He was so brave.”
LaRose, 55, remains in federal prison, serving a 10-year term. Paulin-Ramirez, 39, and Khalid, 24, have been released after serving their sentences.
Damache could face up to 45 years in prison, but his decision to plead guilty is likely to reduce the time he will spend behind bars.
©2018 Philly.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Hand grenades from the last major battle of the Revolutionary War have repeatedly scrambled bomb squads in Virginia's capital
In an uh-oh episode of historic proportions, hand grenades from the last major battle of the Revolutionary War recently and repeatedly scrambled bomb squads in Virginia's capital city.
Wait – they had hand grenades in the Revolutionary War? Indeed. Hollow iron balls, filled with black powder, outfitted with a fuse, then lit and thrown.
And more than two dozen have been sitting in cardboard boxes at the Department of Historic Resources, undetected for 30 years.
At least 4 American veterans among group arrested in Haiti with arsenal of weapons and tactical gear
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
White supremacist Coast Guard officer stockpiled firearms and hit list of Democrats for mass terror attack
A Coast Guard lieutenant arrested this week planned to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," according to a court filing requesting he be detained until his trial.
(Reuters Health) - Military service members who are at risk for suicide may be less likely to attempt to harm themselves when they receive supportive text messages, a U.S. study suggests.
The Army allegedly missed this soldier's stomach cancer for 4 years. His widow wants someone to answer for it
The widow of a soldier whose stomach cancer was allegedly overlooked by Army doctors for four years is mounting a medical malpractice lawsuit against the military, but due to a decades-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine, her case will likely be dismissed before it ever goes to trial.