MOBILE, Alabama – A federal judge has declined to throw out terrorism-related charges against a man accused of conspiring to wage violent jihad in a foreign country.
Dom Soto, an attorney for Randy “Rasheed” Wilson, had sought the dismissal of charges on grounds that the charges were unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. But U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose ruled Tuesday that the charges are neither.
Federal prosecutors allege that Wilson, who was born in Mobile and spent time in Birmingham as an adolescent, struck up a friendship online with Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair and then planned to go to Africa and find a terrorist organization to join.
The issue, DuBose wrote, is whether the law adequately describes the outlawed conduct.
“Any ordinary person can understand that it is a crime to conspire to provide your own services, intending that your services be used to carry out a conspiracy to murder, maim or damage property in a foreign country,” the judge wrote. “This is what the government alleges happened in this case.”
Really? What about Muslims permitted by the State Dept. to aid the jihad in Syria? What about this guy?
DuBose wrote that Soto’s constitutional challenge essentially boils down to a disagreement over the evidence. The defense maintains that Wilson’s actions never amounted to more than constitutionally protected conduct, such as the right to free speech and the right to travel. Prosecutors cited secretly recorded conversations among Wilson, Abukhdair and an undercover agent in arguing that the defendant expressed a very real intent to commit violent acts.
“Clearly at this stage in the litigation, Wilson cannot challenge the sufficiency of the evidence,” DuBose wrote. “Thus, any challenge that his conduct fails to prove a conspiracy to provide himself to terrorist intending that his services be used to carry out a conspiracy to murder, maim or damage property in a foreign country is premature.”
Soto said he would study the law but added that he likely will not appeal DuBose’s ruling.
“We’ll just wait and see,” he said. “It’s early in the game.”
Soto said he is confident that once a jury hears his client’s recorded conversations in context, it will be evident that the prosecution’s interpretation is off the mark.
“I think it’s going to be a different ball of wax,” he said.
The case currently is scheduled for trial in August. But Soto said a delay is probable. He noted that investigators have turned over some 1,000 hours of recorded conversations that the defense must examine.