Justice Richard J. Holwell of the Federal District Court in Manhattan refused on Thursday (Jan.12) to grant a new trial to convicted terrorist El Sayyid A. Nosair, the man convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks and for his role as in the 1990 murder of Jewish Defense League founder Rabbi Meir Kahane.
In support of his request for a new trial, Nosair and his attorneys proffered various claims of newly discovered evidence and of prosecutorial misconduct. Along with other defendants of the Muslim faith, including the infamous “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, Nosair was found guilty of seditious conspiracy and both he and Rahman received life sentences for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, conspiracy to use explosives against New York landmarks,and plotting to assassinate U.S. politicians.
In addition to seditious conspiracy, Nosair was convicted on eight other counts including the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder of a postal police officer, use of a firearm in a murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a murder, use of a firearm in an attempted murder, and possession of a firearm. Nosair›s relatives obtained funds to pay for his defense from Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
As for Abdel-Rahman, he achieved notoriety for blatantly anti-American sentiments that he verbalized publicly. Having issued a “fatwa” (decree) that declared lawful the robbing of banks and killing of Jews in America, his sermons fiercely condemned Americans as the “descendants of apes and pigs who have been feeding from the dining tables of the Zionists, Communiist and colonialists.” Moreover, he called on Muslims to assail the West, suggesting that they “cut the transportation of their countries, tear it apart, destroy their economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air, or land.”
Mr. Nosair has consistently asserted that he could not have been convicted of conspiring against the United States because he was in fact being trained by the United States government to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan. In response, Judge Holwell wrote that “mountains of evidence existed demonstrating that Nosair did, in fact,” engage in the plot.
In seeking a new trial, Nosair argued that prosecutors had improperly prevented his trial lawyers from gaining access to a witness, Ali A. Mohamed, who he said would have supported his claim. Mohamed, a former United States Army sergeant, became a close aide to Osama bin Laden and eventually was arrested and pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges in 2000. Prosecutors have denied Nosair’s claim that the government blocked access to Mohamed and have said that had Mohamed testified truthfully, he would only have “further inculpated Nosair in the terrorist conspiracy.”
Judge Holwell noted that Nosair’s petition was untimely due to the fact that he acknowledged that he had discovered the new evidence more than a year before raising the new claims. In 2009, while being incarcerated at a federal prison in Florence, Colorado, Nosair submitted handwritten papers requesting a new trial. “Petitioner’s conviction should be overturned and he be set free,” Nosair then wrote.
Marjorie M. Smith, an attorney appointed to represent Nosair in his efforts to win a new trial, declined to comment on Judge Holwell’s ruling, except to say that she would consult with Nosair about whether to seek an appeal. The United States attorneys› office in Manhattan also had no comment.
Nosair, who is currently being held at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana received a life sentence for the November 1990 murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League and former member of the Kach party in Israel.