Delay in terror assistance case against NC man

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Through his attorney and on his own, Basit Sheikh told a federal judge the following things Thursday: He wants to represent himself on charges he tried to join an al-Qaida-linked militant group. He wants his family to hire another attorney. And he will leave the country voluntarily if the government drops the charges.

Also, he said he's being abused in prison, "physically and morally."

At the end of the hearing in Raleigh that lasted less than a half-hour, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle granted the North Carolina man's request for a 30-day continuance. When Sheikh returns to court, he will either have a new attorney or Boyle will appoint his current lawyer as stand-by counsel as Sheikh represents himself, the judge said.

"I'm not going to let him represent himself, ever, without a minimum of stand-by counsel," Boyle said.

Sheikh is charged with providing material support to a terrorist group for attempting to join Jabhat al-Nusra, which the U.S. government has declared a terrorist organization. The FBI says Sheikh wrote messages online expressing a desire to fight with the group, one of the primary rebel forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops.

In court, Sheikh spoke with a heavy accent that Boyle didn't always understand and required the defense attorney, Joseph Gilbert, to explain.

Sheikh told his attorney at the start of the day that he wants to argue the case himself, said Gilbert, a public defender. His parents, however, later said they wanted to hire an attorney, he said. "He does not want me to represent him," Gilbert told the judge, explaining Sheikh's comments in court. "He wants to represent himself."

Sheikh told the judge he's being held in a prison in Farmville, Va., "under really stressful conditions." Although he was hard to understand, Sheikh seemed to say he had been subjected to brain scanning, hit in the face and pushed in the hall.

Boyle inquired as to Sheikh's competence. "I am concerned about his competence," Gilbert said.

In response to questions from Boyle, Gilbert said Sheikh is not on medication now and he doesn't believe he ever has been. Gilbert said he's unaware that Sheikh has received any mental health counseling.

Prosecutor Jason Kellhoffer told Boyle that he saw no need for a psychiatric exam at this time. Boyle did not order one.

During a hearing in November, his mother testified that Sheikh lived with his parents, likely suffered from anxiety and depression, needed psychiatric help, and spent all of his time on the Internet.

Sheikh told an FBI informant he was going to join Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, where a civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, an FBI agent said in a sworn affidavit.

In August, Sheikh began an online relationship with an undercover FBI employee on a Facebook page promoting Islamic extremism, the affidavit said. Sheikh told the covert informant he had traveled to Turkey last year hoping to join the fight in Syria, but became dispirited by his experience with people who claimed to be part of the Free Syrian Army.

If convicted, Sheikh could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and fined $250,000.

Sheikh grew up in the Seychelles, a 155-island country in the Indian Ocean, and moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in 2005, he told Boyle. He is a permanent, lawful resident but not a U.S. citizen, Gilbert said.

Sheikh said he was willing to deported if the charges are dropped, although it wasn't clear if he wanted to return to Pakistan or the Seychelles.

"I was told the charges have been dropped, and I'll be allowed to go," Sheikh said.

He later asked Boyle to return him to Wake County so his parents can visit him more often. Boyle declined.

___

Follow Martha Waggoner at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

View Comments (1)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL approval

    By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it. The Senate mustered…

    Reuters
  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • Marijuana Growers Arrested After Pocket Dialing 911

    Three men in California were arrested Monday night after one of the suspects pocket dialed 911. The emergency operator who took the call heard two of the men talking about the possibility of getting pulled over, leading to a major drug bust.

    KSWB - San Diego
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP
  • Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube.

    Associated Press
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Ferguson Officials React to Department of Justice Report

    Officials in Ferguson will comment Wednesday on a scathing report from the Department of Justice about the police department`s treatment of African Americans.

    Tribune
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

    By Madjiasra Nako N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed. Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram…

    Reuters
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • Mexico nabs Zetas drug cartel leader 'Z-42'

    Mexican authorities captured Zetas drug cartel leader Omar Trevino Wednesday, dealing a blow to the feared gang and giving the embattled government a second major arrest in a week. The suspect known as "Z-42" was detained by federal police and soldiers in San Pedro Garza Garcia, an upper-class…

    AFP
  • Paris Hilton brother Conrad to plead guilty to plane assault

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paris Hilton's youngest brother, Conrad, agreed to plead guilty to assaulting flight attendants on a trip from London to Los Angeles last year when authorities say he called other passengers "peasants" and threatened to kill crew members.

    Associated Press