NEW YORK (AP) — An Egyptian man who introduced terrorism inspired by Islamic extremism to U.S. shores when he assassinated an anti-Arab rabbi in 1990 has lost his latest bid for a new trial.
El Sayyid Nosair's claim that he discovered new evidence to overturn his 1995 conviction was rejected in an order made public Thursday. Nosair, 56, is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of seditious conspiracy for conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government through acts of terrorism.
U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell said Nosair did not file his claims in a timely manner, waiting more than a year after learning information from reading books that led him to believe the government had failed to properly inform his lawyers about information that might have helped him at trial.
The judge, though, did review the trial to some extent, concluding that "mountains of evidence" demonstrated Nosair's role in a conspiracy that also resulted in the conviction of blind Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Abdel-Rahman, the spiritual leader of some of the men convicted in the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is serving a life sentence.
At the time of the World Trade Center bombing, Nosair was in state prison after his conviction on weapons charges related to the assassination of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane at a Manhattan hotel. Nosair, once thought to be a lone crazed gunman in the killing, was charged in federal court after FBI agents studied the evidence in the trade center bombing and realized some of the future trade center bombers may have even been in the room during the killing.
The judge said the evidence made it clear that Nosair plotted to wage war on the United States.
He noted that Nosair trained with automatic rifles "as part of Abdel-Rahman's jihad army" and that he urged a co-conspirator during his state criminal trial to construct bombs and carry out numerous other terrorist attacks including killing federal judges and politicians.
The judge said Nosair also wrote in a diary that to achieve his goals he must wreck the morale of Allah's enemies by destroying the structure of their civilized pillars "such as touristic infrastructure which they are proud of and their high buildings."
Nosair was acquitted at trial of a bombing conspiracy charge, though evidence showed two of the bombers had visited him in prison.
In asking for a new trial, Nosair claimed that the government failed to tell his defense team at trial that Ramzi Yousef revealed after his arrest in Pakistan in early 1995 that he was the mastermind of the trade center bombing.
But the judge said his lawyers were given relevant FBI interview reports, including Yousef's statements in redacted form. He said Yousef was made available to the defense for interviews, though Yousef rejected the opportunity, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
The judge said it would not have mattered anyway because Nosair was acquitted in the bombing.
Yousef, who fled the United States on a flight the night of the bombing, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others, was convicted in the attack. He also was convicted at a separate trial of charges that he plotted to bomb a dozen U.S.-bound airliners over the Far East. He is serving a life prison sentence.
His uncle Khalid Sheik Mohammed has claimed responsibility as the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.