Friday, July 16, 2010

Terrorism: Former attorney Lynne Stewart re-sentenced to 10 Years for terrorism-related crimes

Lynne Stewart, 70, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for aiding convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman's communication from prison to his terrorist group, the Islamic Group, announced Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; George Venizelos, the FBI's New York Office Special Agent-in-Charge and Raymond W. Kelly, Police Commissioner of the City of New York.

In February 2005, following a nine-month jury trial in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl, Stewart and co-defendants Ahmed Abdel Sattar and Mohammed Yousry were found guilty of all seven counts against them – including, as to Stewart, providing material support to a conspiracy to kill and kidnap individuals in a foreign country, conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. Judge Koeltl previously sentenced Stewart to 28 months in prison. In November 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed all three defendants' convictions, but directed that they be re-sentenced.

According to the superseding indictment and the evidence at trial, for more than two years, Stewart, Sattar and Yousry acted as the hub of a communications network that enabled convicted and imprisoned terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to perpetuate his position as the leader of a terrorist organization, the Islamic Group, despite his conviction for seditious conspiracy to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States. Abdel Rahman was incarcerated and subject to restrictions on his communications with the outside world known as "Special Administrative Measures," or SAMs. Stewart worked with Sattar and Yousry to circumvent those restrictions, allowing Abdel Rahman to continue to provide leadership to the Islamic Group.

Stewart was fully familiar with the Islamic Group and Abdel Rahman's role in it, based on her representation of him during and after the trial at which he was convicted of planning to blow up buildings and tunnels in New York City. Notwithstanding her knowledge, Stewart, along with Sattar and Yousry, facilitated Abdel Rahman's efforts to continue to lead the Islamic Group, from his jail cell.

Stewart and her co-defendants smuggled messages between leaders of the Islamic Group around the world and Abdel Rahman in prison. In the case of Abdel Rahman's withdrawal of support for the Islamic Group's cease-fire, his message was broadcast to the news media for dissemination around the world.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents of the FBI and detectives of the New York City Police Department – for their work in the investigation of this case. U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for its assistance.

"Lynne Stewart broke the oath she swore as an attorney and now stands sentenced in the system of laws that she betrayed," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

"Lynne Stewart, then an attorney and an officer of the court, assisted a convicted terrorist in communicating with his followers, in direct violation of a judicial order," said FBI New York Special Agent-in-Charge George Venizelos. "Today's sentence reflects the seriousness of that offense. The FBI is satisfied that this serves the interests of justice."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Dember and Michael D. Maimin are in charge of the prosecution.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice