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Judge adds 7 years to FBI stabbing sentence 

Fareed Mumuni's attorney urged a district court to see the potential in his client: “He’s a human being, judge."

BROOKLYN (CN) — A district judge said a Staten Island man who admitted to stabbing an FBI agent in the name of ISIS has proved he’s remorseful, sincere and working to help others. But on the orders of an appellate court, the judge on Tuesday reconsidered his below-guidelines sentencing and tacked on seven years in prison. 

Fareed Mumuni grabbed an eight-inch knife and attacked a federal agent, stabbing him repeatedly, while a squad was executing a search warrant based on testimony that Mumuni planned to travel to Syria and join the terrorist group ISIS. 

After the June 2015 attack, Mumuni pleaded guilty to attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to support a terrorist group. In a move that apparently shocked appellate judges, U.S. Chief District Judge Margo Brodie sentenced him to 17 years in prison. 

A Second Circuit ruling tossed the original sentence, finding it “shockingly low.” 

“Mumuni’s attack was not a spontaneous assault of a federal officer amid a heated altercation. Nor was it an act of self‐ defense,” U.S. Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes wrote in the 45-page ruling. “Mumuni’s violent attack against Agent Coughlin was indisputably a premeditated, willful, and deliberate attempt to murder a federal officer in the name of ISIS. In short, it was a pre‐authorized ISIS terrorist attack on American soil.”

Brodie on Tuesday increased the total to 25 years — still leagues below the 85 years the government asked for. She acknowledged that since he’s been incarcerated, Mumuni, who was three-quarters of the way to a sociology bachelor’s degree when he was arrested, has taken courses on tutoring and entrepreneurship. 

“Your view is that your purpose is now to help others avoid making the same mistakes,” said Brodie, addressing Mumuni. 

As he entered the Brooklyn federal courtroom wearing a khaki uniform and white skullcap, Mumuni waved at a man seated in the front row, who returned the gesture. Later, his attorney explained that the row was filled with family members: Mumuni’s mother, uncle and “a couple cousins.”

Mumuni apologized to the agent he attacked, who sat alongside prosecutors, and said he had been working to show everyone he had changed. 

“I knew immediately what I did was whacked out, it was wrong,” Mumuni told the court. “I’m not making excuses for anything I’ve done ... I’m asking for everyone’s forgiveness.” 

The agent, Kevin Coughlin, said he had no doubt that Mumuni was trying to kill him. 

“This was not a last minute decision,” Coughlin said. He explained that his family had been shaken by the 2015 incident, which preceded the birth of his youngest two children. “Neither of them would have existed today, if Mumuni had his way, and my daughter would have grown up without a father.” 

Mumuni had not tried to recruit anyone else into ISIS, and hadn’t taken concrete steps toward carrying out an attack like researching bomb materials or searching for landmarks — unlike the co-defendant that recruited him, Munther Omar Saleh, who received an 18-year prison sentence. Before this matter, Mumuni had no criminal history, and his time incarcerated has been without incident.

But Mumuni, not Saleh, attacked an FBI agent during his arrest — in the name of ISIS — which prosecutors said was “exceptionally grave” and underscored the need for a higher sentence. 

Defense attorney Anthony Ricco implored Judge Brodie to look at his 27-year-old client’s lack of disciplinary records. Beyond what Ricco called “good boy” behavior, there are Mumuni’s efforts to use his own education to help other detainees. 

“In our society, people who have the privilege of education often use that privilege as a hammer,” Ricco said. “They twist and turn that word to turn people into something other than who they really are,” he continued, adding Mumuni worked to show others what they could be. 

“I think Fareed Mumuni, Your Honor, is a young man with a lot of promise and potential,” Ricco said. “He’s a human being, judge. And there are people in various powerful positions who want to strip him of that.” 

Ricco, though soft-spoken, didn’t hold back critiques of “tone-deaf cliches” and inaccurate descriptions of who his client really is. 

“No matter what happens, the people on your right will continue to love and support him,” Ricco said, referring to Mumuni’s family. “No matter what happens, he’ll continue to do his best to prove that those who believe that an 85-year sentence is — I can’t even find the words to describe it.” 

Ricco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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