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Federal judge partially overturns sailor terrorism conviction

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Connecticut [official website] on Thursday reversed [opinion, PDF] a former Navy signalman's conviction for material support of terrorism. Judge Mark Kravitz set aside the conviction of Hassan Abu-Jihaad, finding that the facts of the case did not support the jury's determination that Abu-Jihaad had provided either "physical assets" or "personnel" within the meaning of 18 USC § 2339A [text].

It could well be that Mr. Abu-Jihaad asked Azzam how he could help in supporting jihad, they told him to send defense information ... and Mr. Abu-jihhad did as requested. In those circumstances, the Court would have little difficulty concluding that Mr. Abu- Jihaad had volunteered himself as personnel .... On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Abu-Jihaad on a whim simply sent defense information to Azzam on one occasion, not knowing if Azzam wanted it .... In those circumstances, he surely provided defense information to someone not entitled to receive it, ... but it would be linguistically odd to describe that lone, voluntary act as making personnel available to Azzam.
Kravitz upheld Abu-Jihaad's conviction on charges of disclosing classified national defense information to Azzam Publications [BBC backgrounder], a suspected terrorist support network.

Abu-Jihaad, formerly a signalman on the USS Benfold [official website], was convicted [DOJ press release] last year when a document describing the movements, armaments and formation of the Fifth Fleet Battle Group [official website] was discovered by British authorities during an investigation into suspected terrorist Babar Ahmad [advocacy website; BBC profile]. Ahmad was extradited [JURIST report] from the UK to the US in November 2006 for conspiring to kill Americans and running Azzam Publications, following his October 2004 indictment in the US [arrest warrant and criminal complaint, PDF].

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