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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
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No New Trial for Egyptian Assassin

MANHATTAN (CN) - Recently discovered information about the 1993 World Trade Center bombings will not upend the "mountains of evidence" linking El Sayyid Nosair to seditious conspiracy against the United States and the murder of an extremist rabbi, a federal judge ruled.

In 1995, a jury convicted Nosair of two counts of attempted murder, murder in the furtherance of a racketeering enterprise, attempted murder of a federal officer, three counts of use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, in the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane.

It also convicted him of seditious conspiracy for plotting terrorism, though it acquitted him of the bombing conspiracy count related to the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

Then-presiding Justice Alvin Schlesinger condemned that acquittal as "against the overwhelming weight of evidence" and "devoid of common sense and logic." In state court, Schlesinger sentenced Nosair to a maximum 22.5 years in prison.

Former U.S. District Judge Michael B. Mukasey later sentenced Nosair to life imprisonment for the federal murder charge, plus 40 years on other charges.

Nosair fought his convictions from prison in January 2008, citing new evidence he said is found in Peter Lance's 2006 book "Triple Cross."

That book alleged that the government pressured a potential defense witness, convicted U.S. Embassy plotter Ali Mohamed, not to appear at Nosair's federal trial.

In his 15-page order, U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell wrote that Nosair had read in Lance's book that Mohamed had worked for the CIA and the FBI, and that Mohamed had been pressured from testifying in Nosair's federal trial.

Nosair said that the transcript of Mohamed's guilty plea in Manhattan Federal Court confirmed it, and claimed that convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef's confession to masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center attacks exonerated him.

In rejecting his bid for a new trial, Holwell reminded Nosair that he had been acquitted of that count.

"Yousef's admission was in no way exculpatory for Nosair. Nosair was convicted of seditious conspiracy and several murder and gun charges. But he was acquitted of the bombing conspiracy charge. An admission by a conspirator in a conspiracy in which Nosair was not involved, that that conspirator masterminded that acquitted conspiracy, has nothing whatsoever to do with Nosair's convictions for murder, illegal gun possession, or conspiring to wage war against the United States," Holwell wrote.

The judge added that Yousef's admission does not undermine the "mountains of evidence" connecting him to seditious conspiracy.

"The principal argument of Nosair's petition concerning his seditious conspiracy conviction is that he could not have been guilty of that charge because he was, in fact, being trained by the United States to fight the Russians in Afghanistan and not training to wage a terroristic war against the United States," Holwell wrote. "But whether someone else masterminded a wholly separate conspiracy to bomb a building has nothing to do with whether Nosair plotted to wage war on the United States. On the other hand, mountains of evidence existed demonstrating that Nosair did, in fact, engage in that very plot ... (including, inter alia, (1) Nosair training with automatic rifles as part of Abdel Rahman's jihad army; (2) Nosair discussions with Rahman about the progress of the jihad army members' paramilitary training, and the organization of the army's facilities; (3) Nosair's suggestions to other members of the conspiracy of 'numerous terrorist operations' including murders of federal judges and politicians; (4) Nosair urging El-Gabrowny, during the course of Nosair's state criminal trial to construct bombs and urging other acts of jihad; and (5) Nosair's diary which stated that to achieve his goals he must 'destroy the morale of the enemies of Allah. (And this is by means of destroying) (exploding) the structure of their civilized pillars. Such as touristic infrastructure which they are proud of and their high buildings ...'). Thus, Yousef's statement that he masterminded the 1993 WTC bombing does not undermine confidence in Nosair's conviction for seditious conspiracy." (Parentheses as in complaint.)

Holwell ordered the case closed.

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