(CN) – A New York appeals court affirmed the conviction on Wednesday of an al-Qaida member who tried to establish a terror training camp in the United States.
The 2nd Circuit in lower Manhattan rejected all of Oussama Kassir’s claims on appeal, including a contention that his 2009 conviction was unconstitutionally vague. Kassir was sentenced to life in prison in September 2009 for supporting al-Qaida.
Prosecutors said the Lebanese-born Swede planned to open the camp in the small town of Bly, Ore., with three co-conspirators: Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, Aswat Haroon Rashid (aka Haroon Aswat) and Earnest James Ujaama.
Witnesses testified that Kassir, who also goes by Abu Abdullah and Abu Khadija, showed them how to turn an AK-47 rifle into a grenade launcher and make silencers. Kassir also posted terrorist training manuals on his website.
Chief Justice Dennis Jacobs, writing for the court’s three-judge panel, first rejected Kassir’s claim that the trial court improperly admitted expert testimony on the history of al-Qaida.
The judge said it was “appropriate in the context of a case” because it helped the jury understand the organization’s recruitment and training methods.
Jacobs also pointed to the testimony of one of Kassir’s co-conspirators as evidence that he attempted to start the jihad training camp “beyond any reasonable doubt,” dismissing the terrorist’s claim that the witnesses were unreliable.
Finally, the judge rejected Kassir’s constitutional claims under the First Amendment because he found Kassir knowingly engaged in terrorist activities.
Jacobs said that Kassir was capable of understanding that “training aspiring jihadists in the use of guns and knives, and in how to make poison, is proscribed” and “a person of ordinary intelligence would also know that creating and maintaining websites that host training manuals and propaganda for jihadist organizations and provide instructions for making explosive devices and other weapons, is similarly prohibited.”