Al-Moayad and Zayed walk watch. Some of the evidence dates from the time before Al-Qaeda was designated a terrorist group, so it is inadmissable, you see. From the New York Times, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
In an important victory for a Yemeni sheik charged with financing terrorism, a federal judge yesterday prevented prosecutors from introducing what they have described as vital evidence during their initial presentation to the jury.
The judge in federal court in Brooklyn, Sterling Johnson Jr., ruled that the prosecutors cannot display three items they have said are their only corroboration for secretly recorded conversations in which they say the sheik and an aide plotted to take money for terrorist organizations….
The ruling was important because the items the judge banned were the prosecutors’ only way of proving that the defendants’ supposed plan to take money for Al Qaeda and Hamas was part of a long-running effort to provide financial support to terrorist organizations.
The sheik, Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, 56, and his aide, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, 31 are charged with conspiracy and providing financial support for Al Qaeda and Hamas.
The ruling, which created palpable anxiety among the prosecutors, said the prosecutors cannot show jurors an application of a mujahedeen fighter for entry into an Al Qaeda training camp. The prosecutors said the application, found in Afghanistan in 2001, listed Sheik Moayad as the fighter’s sponsor.
The ruling also stopped prosecutors from introducing into evidence address books taken from two Muslim fighters in Bosnia in 1996. The prosecutors said the books included entries for Sheik Moayad.
Judge Johnson said that “we don’t know what the source” of the Al Qaeda application was and that the address books were from a time too remote from the alleged fund-raising by the sheik in 2003. Judge Johnson said they dated back to before Al Qaeda was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States government.
The third item he banned during the prosecution’s initial presentation was a videotape of a wedding in Yemen that the prosecutors said included images of Sheik Moayad cheering about the death of Jews in a Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.
Focusing on a central vulnerability for the prosecutors, Judge Johnson noted that the videotape was taken by the prosecution’s main informer, Mohamed Alanssi. Mr. Alanssi drew attention to a history that included bad debts and legal troubles when he set himself on fire outside the White House in November.
After that act, the prosecutors suggested they would not call Mr. Alanssi as a witness. Yesterday, Judge Johnson said the prosecutors could not show the wedding videotape unless Mr. Alanssi testified.
“If the informant wants to come in and testify as to what he saw and observed, I’ll allow it,” Judge Johnson said from the bench.