Chicago man charged in Somalia bomb plan seeks home detention
By NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org June 11, 2012 12:26PM
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Shaker Masri, of Chicago. On Monday, June 11, 2012, defense lawyers will seek the release of Masri, 26, of Chicago, who is awaiting trial on charges he plotted to travel overseas to become a suicide bomber for al-Qaida and another terror group. The issue is expected to come up at a status hearing at federal court in Chicago. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service)
Updated: July 13, 2012 6:13AM
He spent 600 days in solitary confinement before winning a ruling that put him into the general population at a downtown lockup.
Now, Shaker Masri, a 29-year-old Chicago man charged with plotting to travel to Somalia on a suicide-bombing mission, wants a federal judge to release him on bond.
Attorneys for Masri said on Monday that Masri, arrested in 2010, has spent far too long behind bars. Prosecutors though, urged the court not to release Masri, saying he posed a continuing threat to the public.
Defense lawyers on Monday asked U.S. Judge Sharon Coleman to release Masri under the condition of home confinement, that he be placed on an electronic monitoring device and that his first cousin act as a third-party custodian.
Masri is asking to be on bond until his trial, which had been scheduled for July but was been postponed to September.
“Obviously, in a terrorism-related case, most people don’t get out on bond,” said one of his lawyers, Thomas A. Durkin. “But this case is extraordinary in the sense that most people don’t have to sit and wait for a trial the length of time he has. This is [an] unreasonable delay.”
Coleman said she would rule on the matter this week.
Durkin complained the trial date was moved from July to September because the government was too slow to declassify some of its evidence.
Masri, who came to court Monday wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and a beard, with his head shaved, turned and waved to a family member in the courtroom gallery. His cousin attended the hearing and said she was willing to be a third-party custodian for Masri should he be released pending trial.
Earlier this year, the defense won a bid to move Masri out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit, or the SHU, and into general population.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Kim described Masri as both a flight risk and a danger to the community, describing his “obsession with self-sacrificial destruction.”
“He intended to commit indiscriminate murder of innocent lives,” Kim said. She added that once arrested, Masri told a former cell mate if he were freed, he would stay in the United States so he could “make a statement the whole world would hear.”
Masri’s attorneys say the government’s case is weak, hanging on the word of a confidential informant.
Tapes from that confidential informant are “in dispute, out of context, and we believe, inaccurate,” said defense lawyer Linda Moreno.
Masri allegedly told a cooperating individual that he decided to travel to Somalia to aid al-Qaida or the group al-Shabaab in jihadist conflict. The cooperator and Masri met through a book warehouse in Addison in 2008, according to charging papers.
The individual relayed information to authorities, including by wearing a wire, the criminal complaint indicates.
The government has said that Masri was allegedly captured on tape describing suicide bombers as “martyrs” for Islam and his desire to do harm.
“I wish to know how the explosive belt was made,” Masri allegedly said to a friend wearing a wire, according to charges. “I will wear one, and I will not take it off.”