Paintball jihad trial update. Al-Timimi was just exercising his freedom of speech, you see. From AP, with thanks to JS:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A federal judge indicated Monday that the defense believes First Amendment issues may play a significant role in the trial of an Islamic scholar accused of exhorting followers to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
While summarizing the prosecution’s case, U.S. District Judge Leonie
Brinkema told prospective panelists that the defense contends much of the government’s evidence against Ali al-Timimi is constitutionally protected free speech.
“He says that he only counseled the young men at issue to leave the United States and (migrate) to an Islamic country where they could practice their religion freely,” she told a pool of 110 people who filled out long questionnaires….
The government’s case against al-Timimi, a U.S. citizen born in Washington, D.C., is closely linked to its earlier prosecution of 11 men who were allegedly part of a “Virginia jihad network” _ a group of men who played paintball games in 2000 and 2001 in the woods of northern Virginia as a means of training for holy war around the globe.
Nine men were convicted and received prison sentences ranging from three years to life. Several who struck plea bargains are expected to testify against al-Timimi.
According to prosecutors, al-Timimi served as a spiritual leader to several members of the Virginia group and turned its focus against the United States.
Previously, the defendant’s lawyers, Edward MacMahon and Alan Yamamoto, tried to suppress several pieces of government evidence on free-speech grounds _ including an e-mail al-Timimi sent after the Columbia space shuttle disaster, praising it as a “good omen” of the downfall of Western supremacy.
Brinkema ruled, however, it was relevant to show al-Timimi’s hostility to America; he is charged with inducing others to levy war against the United States….
Yes, we agree that all this is quite relevant.