Feds want case dropped against Afghan

Overseas witness unable to testify in perjury trial for brother-in-law of bin Laden's bodyguard

Topics: Terrorism, Osama Bin Laden,

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to drop charges against the Afghan-born brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, saying a key overseas witness was unavailable to testify.

The motion to dismiss was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in the case against Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who had been accused by prosecutors of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship application.

Niazi was scheduled for a November trial on charges of perjury, procurement of naturalization unlawfully, passport fraud and making a false statement. He could have faced up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

His attorney, Chase Scolnick, declined to comment because a judge has not yet signed off on the dismissal motion. Niazi was not immediately available for comment, Scolnick said.

The government requested the dismissal of the case without prejudice, which means charges could later be refiled.

“After considering all aspects of the case, including the unavailability of an overseas witness, the government decided that it could not move forward with the prosecution,” Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said in a prepared statement.

The statement said no further comment would be provided.

Niazi’s case grabbed national attention when he was arrested in February 2009 and a former FBI informant named Craig Monteilh soon went public with his involvement in building the case.

Monteilh has said he infiltrated Niazi’s Southern California mosque for the FBI by pretending to be a half-French, half-Syrian Muslim convert.

Once there, he secretly filmed and recorded dozens of worshippers at mosques, including the Islamic Center of Irvine, where Niazi worshipped, according to court papers.

The AP has independently confirmed that Monteilh worked for the FBI as a mosque informant from 2006 to 2007.

Monteilh later sued the FBI, alleging he was mistreated by the agency.

Muslims who followed the case said they were pleased with the government’s move to dismiss the case and believed Niazi had been charged because he declined to become an informant for the FBI.

They noted that Niazi had spent more than 18 months in home detention that was downgraded earlier this year to a curfew lasting from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He also wore a tracking device on his ankle.

“We welcome this corrective action by the government and the FBI,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in greater Los Angeles.

“At this point the government — and specifically the FBI — owes Mr. Niazi, his family and the Muslim community at large a major apology for ruining his reputation and parading him as some sort of vicious terrorist,” Ayloush said.

Monteilh, the former informant, had his first lawsuit against the FBI thrown out but later filed an amended complaint that is pending.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>