Trial Set for Vietnamese Brit Feds Tie to al-Qaida

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A prominent alleged terrorist appears on the witness list when trial kicks off early next year for a Vietnamese Brit accused of helping al-Qaida’s chief propagandists in Yemen, the court heard Monday.
     Minh Quang Pham, 32, has obtained new counsel since the time that he pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
     Now represented by Bobbi Stearnheim, Pham will stand trial on Feb. 1, 2016, for charges that he helped the U.S.-designated terror group put out their propaganda magazine Inspire to reach out to potential recruits.
     Nearly four years ago, British authorities searching Pham at Heathrow International Airport found armor-piercing ammunition associated with a Kalashnikov rifle, according to his indictment.
     A government informant claims to have spotted the Vietnamese Brit with the author of an article that ran in Inspire called “I Am Proud to Be a Traitor to America.” Though the writer’s name does not appear in the case against Pham, that article is attributed to Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American who died in the same drone strike that killed fellow Inspire associate Anwar al-Awlaki, a Colorado-born militant.
     Monday’s proceedings revealed that the government’s cooperating witness may also be a prominent name in the world of national-security cases.
     During the morning hearing, both the prosecution and defense disclosed that a Somali named Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame will be testifying against Pham.
     Captured in early 2011, Warsame had been interrogated at sea for more than two months before his arraignment in the Southern District of New York, where he arrived mere weeks before Pham landed in Heathrow.
     Though Warsame’s capture set off partisan debate at the time about whether he should have been sent to Guantanamo, he now appears to be aiding federal prosecutors in a case against another alleged member of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
     Ironically, a paralegal assisting Pham’s lawyer may have had a brush with his client’s current accuser.
     On his last day in a pro-bono group known as the Federal Defenders, paralegal Julian Joslin attended a meeting in which Warsame’s sister may have been present.
     Stearnheim disclosed this connection as a possible conflict-of-interest, but this tie did not trouble her client. Pham stood by his current counsel when informed on the paralegal’s tenuous tie to Warsame.
     After the parties untangled the issue, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan was satisfied Pham voluntarily waived any argument that it posed a conflict.

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