Brooklyn federal prosecutors say Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun was an operative for the terrorist group and part of battles in Afghanistan that left two American servicemen dead. Harun also had unsuccessful plans to bomb the American Embassy in Nigeria, they say.
While prosecutors are betting they can convince a jury to put Harun away for life, it doesn’t seem the accused terrorist can be persuaded to attend his trial or cooperate in his defense.
Harun, 46, insists he should be tried in an international court or a military court. He has previously tried writing the United Nations and Pentagon about his case.
And he’s been kicked out of the Brooklyn courtroom multiple times. His loud, disruptive humming has gotten him the boot, and once, in transit, he tore his clothes off with his teeth. In one video feed from jail, Harun cursed out Federal Judge Brian Cogan, who had to put him on mute.
A one-way video monitor will be set up for Harun if he does want to watch the trial. He has spent more than four years holed up in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the same high-security jail in lower Manhattan now holding Mexican drug lord Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman.
Harun’s appointed defense team — which can’t find another case of someone being tried in civilian court for post-9/11 fighting in Afghanistan — has questioned their client’s mental competence.
But Cogan rejects the idea that Harun can’t stand trial and says he made a choice with his “lack of respect for this court and his rejection of these legal proceedings.”
Prosecutors say this is an “Al Qaeda journal” of another fighter recovered at the 2003 battlefield in Afghanistan. The journal allegedly references one of Ibrahim Suleieman Adnan Adam Harun’s aliases, “Abu Tamim”.
The judge said it was like the choice Harun made not to bathe in order to make it difficult for prison guards to be near him.
Harun, who was born in Saudi Arabia on a hajj and considers himself a citizen of Niger, faces charges including plotting the murder of U.S. citizens and aiding Al Qaeda. The trial is a warmup for Brooklyn federal prosecutors, who have two other terrorism trials set for this year.
One of Harun’s lawyers, Susan Kellman, declined to comment.
Lawyer Michael Bachrach, who is not on the case but has represented terrorism defendants, said the defense playbook with a client like Harun was still to fight as zealously as possible.
“Sometimes defendants come around,” he said.
According to prosecution court papers, Harun spilled the beans when Italian and U.S. authorities got their hands on him.
Harun said he arrived in Libya in 2005 and was held there for six years before boarding a ship for Taranto, Italy, court papers say. While on the Excelsior, he allegedly told authorities he was an Al Qaeda member and demanded to be sent to an international court or Interpol. He also wanted to get off the boat and threatened to jump before he was arrested for allegedly assaulting officers.
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