Terrorist Khan and The Clown Judge
Were the actions of an ISIS terrorist the actions of simply an immature youth’s exuberance – a “stupid thing” – which should have received the mercy from Judge Hughes? Or was it a major error?
Prosecutors have appealed Judge Hughes’ sentence, arguing that the sentence imposed potentially have national security implications: there are more than 150 Moslem-Americans fighting for ISIS in Syria. One-hundred more have been arrested before they were able to
physically join the terrorist organization.
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, argued as much in a brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month, that “The district court’s error was not harmless. Indeed, the magnitude of its error was enormous.”
“The sentence,” the brief explained “… did not reflect the gravity of Khan’s conduct and would not sufficiently deter others from taking the first step along the path to radicalization. The sentence also results in unwarranted disparity with sentences of similarly situated defendants who have received far more serious sentences.”
A counter-brief by Khan and his attorney, David Adler, is expected sometime in the coming weeks.
Five years ago, the FBI learned that a (then) 19-year old citizen had joined a terror group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while temporarily living with an uncle in Australia.
Asher Khan used Facebook to lavish praise on Jizb ut-Tahrir and stated that he joined the group so that he could die in service to Allah. He not only communicated this to his readers at Facebook, he also served as active recruiter for ISIS. Over the long-distance Internet, Khan recruited a high-school friend to join ISIS as well.
His friend was named Sixto Ramiro Garcia, who he had met at their Houston mosque. Khan arranged to meet Sixto in Turkey; there, a guide would take them into Syria where they could achieve glory for the moon-god.
Khan and Garcia boarded planes; Khan from Australia, and Garcia from Houston. But the FBI concocted a ruse to convince Khan to return to the United States. Khan’s mother told him that she was dying in a hospital; he needed to come home.
He flew to Texas instead of Turkey and having arrived, wired his panicked friend in Turkey $300 and arranged through the internet to put Garcia in contact with the ISIS guide. Sixto was killed a few months later, which, quite frankly, is a likely result of joining a terrorist group.
Khan, now in Texas, kept recruiting for ISIS —an activity that continued until his arrest by federal authorities in May 2015. Khan was charged in federal court with violations of 18 USC 2339(a)(b), providing material support to terrorist organizations. Notably, 2339(b) requires a longer prison sentence because, as in this case, “material support” resulted in the death of another person (Sixto Garcia).
In 2015, Federal prosecutors wanted Khan to remain behind bars awaiting trial, arguing that Khan is a threat to national security. Judge Lynn Nettleton Hughes decided to impose house-arrest, instead. Hughes then assailed prosecutors asking whether the government would have detained someone during the Cold War for joining the Community Party of East Germany. It was a rhetorical question.
Nevertheless, East German Communists never threw a five-year-old child off a second-floor mezzanine at the Mall of America, either. That aside, it was only after his bond hearing that Khan claimed to be a “changed man.” He’s now a 24-year old engineering student at the University of Houston, which given Khan’s previous line of work, shouldn’t bring us a sense that all is well in the world.
Judge Hughes considered the facts of this case from the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He sentenced Khan to 18-months in prison. Prosecutors were asking for fifteen years. Hughes, a Reagan appointee, scoffed at the arguments set forth by the prosecutors and expressed sympathy for Khan, a convicted terrorist[…]
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