By DEREK NORMAN
A Brooklyn federal jury began on Thursday deliberating the case of an Al Qaeda-linked man charged with conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and blow up a U.S. embassy.
The accused, Adnan Ibrahim Harun, a Saudi-born man from Niger was extradited to the United States on terrorism charges after he was found aboard a refugee boat by Italian officials in 2012. Harun is accused of killing two U.S. serviceman in gunfire exchange outside of an Al Qaeda training camp along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Other charges include conspiracy to bomb a U.S. facility, after he was said to have been planning, scoping out and seeking explosives in Nigeria.
“’I want to give you a history on how I entered into terrorism….’ These are the defendant’s words,” said Melody Wells, the Asst. U.S. attorney in her closing argument. “This is a man proudly confessed, who made terrorism his life’s work, and who dedicated his life to bloodshed.”
The prosecutor’s closing statement recalled all of the events that led to charges, from the first Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan that the defendant lived, to the firefights with U.S. soldiers, to his initial arrest trying to cross into Libya.
The defendant, who has a violent and unruly habit of disobedience in the courtroom, refused to attend the session today in what was said to be “defiance of Western imperialism,” but listened to each statement from his detention cell. Because Harun doesn’t speak English, he had to listen to the courtroom speeches via two translators relaying the statements in Hausa, the regional Niger/Nigeria language.
In hopes of swaying the jury, Wells frequently humanized the charges by recounting personal moments shared in testimony by soldiers who experienced the battles that involved Harun, as well as the attacks on Sept. 11, which occurred while Harun was living at Al-Farouq, Afghanistan. In his confession, Harun recalled the celebration just before he began his jihadist training.
The prosecutor began to retell the April 2003 story of a battle between U.S. soldiers and the jihadists that killed two servicemen, through the testimony of fellow soldiers who were there.
“Ladies and gentleman, the efforts of the defendant and those fighters to kill Americans worked,” said Wells. “The earth shook around them, like a rain shower when the drops bounce up, but instead of rain, it was bullets and grenades.”
To this same story, an excerpt of the defendant’s confession was shown on a screen that read, “because we were face to face, that is when I opened up my Kalashnikov and started firing. I started throwing grenades one after another. God is great.”
Evidence was displayed throughout the session, with items like jihadist address books, journals and Quran with Huran’s fingerprints, all which were found at an Al Qaeda encampment.
The defense counsel waived their closing argument, which sent the court into a 30-minute recess, as the prosecutor worried that it could later lead to grounds of an appeal.
The last thing Wells said to the jury before they went into deliberate was simple; “we have shown you evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Please convict him.”