Ahmed Abdel Sattar Ahmed Abdel Sattar.org


Transcript of Trial

June 23, 2004
Br. Ahmed's defense attorney Paul spoke to the jury. Please read carefully. It's an important statement not only of Br. Ahmed's innocence but of the factual situation in Egypt.

So what is this case about and what will the evidence show? It is really a case about words. My client, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, has been charged with very serious crimes based on words that were spoken by him and others. Your job will be a very difficult one because you will have to determine what was my client's intent when he spoke those words. The government's evidence will consist primarily of conversations between my client and others, and it is from those conversations the government will argue their case. The reason we are here today, what brings us to this very courtroom, is that my client has already spoken. He has told this court he is not guilty of these crimes. And I submit to you that after you have heard and had a chance to evaluate the evidence or lack of evidence, you, too, will reach that conclusion. Though we all spent a very long time selecting you, and you have each assured us that you will be fair and impartial, as I stand here today I am very nervous; not just because this is an important trial with much at stake for my client, because it is that; but also because I recognize that even though you have been told and will be told again by Judge Koeltl that the government has the burden of proof throughout
this trial. The burden of proof remains at this table, the government's table. It never moves over to this table. There is no burden of proof by any defendant to have to prove anything to you. And this is because my client, Mr. Sattar, as he sitting here right now, is presumed innocent, and that presumption of innocence remains with him as we sit here today, as we sit here through the many months we will sit and listen to evidence, as we sit here and listen to the summations, as we sit here and listen to Judge Koeltl's instructions at the end of the case. He is protected by that presumption of innocence and it remains with him throughout, even at the time that you get up to go into that jury room to begin your deliberations. And it is only until and unless you are all satisfied that the government has in fact established beyond a reasonable doubt each element of each charge with regard to Mr. Sattar, and then, and only then, is that presumption perhaps shattered. And that is the law. And though that is the law, my nervousness and fear stems from the reality of today's world, which does not lend itself to people being very objective or fair once they hear some of the words and names, you are going to hear at this trial. Some of these you have already heard in the government's opening remarks yesterday morning. Some of them were even mentioned by Mr. Tigar in his opening remarks. Quite simply, the mere mention of certain words or names understandably make -- cause you to feel such anger or
discomfort that you may even flinch when you hear some of these words and names. And you are going to have to fight against those reactions if you are to truly fulfill your oath as a juror and evaluate the evidence in an impartial, fair, and objective way. Words, places and names you will hear in no particular order throughout this trial, words such as Jihad, Muslim, terrorist or terrorism, the Islamic Group, fatwah, Sheikh, Abu Sayyaf, the U.S.S. Cole, Luxor terrorist attack, World Trade Center, Osama Bin Laden. Given the daily events of terrorism around the world, which is all we read and hear about in the papers and on TV, certainly since 9/11, you must not allow the mere mention of these words and names to impair your ability to be fair and impartial. We live in fear that something dreadful might happen again to us here in the United States. This is only normal. However, as normal as that may be, you cannot allow that fear to cloud your ability to objectively evaluate this case. And as difficult as that may be, as we all sit in here inside this courtroom that once was the very shadow of the World Trade Center, you have been chosen to serve on this jury because each of you, each and every one of you have assured us that you will abide by the oath you took and be able to do just that. We become a nation confronting an enemy that's everywhere and nowhere. Our vulnerability has caused us all to
He didn't just express his opposition to the government of Egypt in general terms by talking of the terrible poverty and living conditions of millions of Egyptian citizens. But he spoke out against the corruption of the government itself and lectured on how Muslims should revolt against the oppressor. To the sheikh that meant Nasser, Sadat or Mubarak. And for the reason being they failed their own people. Sheikh Rahman was a clerk, an Imam, or leader of prayer, and an Islamic religious scholar. Sattar, a very religious man himself, related to the sheikh's criticism of the Egyptian government. He too views it as a government which refuses basic rights for individuals who simply may oppose or speak out against the inequalities that the government encourages. Those who dare to speak out are rewarded in most cases with imprisonment without any trial or opportunity to defend oneself. And then ultimately the worse imaginable prison conditions and torture. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is for those who are fortunate enough not to simply be killed or disappear without a trace never to be heard from again. Sattar was living in the United States for many years before the sheikh came here on a tourist visa in 1990. And since Sattar was born and lived in Egypt until he was 23 years old, it is not surprising that he had not only heard of the sheikh but admired him from afar. Sattar's own politics stem
change, and we recognize that. And, consequently, our government has been going after those it sees as its enemy. Rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, this man, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, is no enemy of the United States. He is certainly not a terrorist. Nothing could be further from the truth. As you've already heard from the government, the evidence in this case will include interceptions made by the government of all of my client's telephone conversations, e-mails and faxes for how long? Seven years. Seven years. This resulted in approximately 90,000 interceptions of my client. From these 90,000 interceptions you are going to hear just a few, or at least a relatively small number from which the government alleges has formed the charges in this case against my client. It is for the most part based upon these conversations that the government has charged Ahmed Abdel Sattar with the following offenses: Conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country, solicitation of crimes of violence. The reason these charges sound so serious is because they are. But when I tell you that this is a case about words and nothing more, that is because as serious and violent as these crimes sound, rest assured, there will not be any evidence and not even one allegation by the government that anything, that anything ever happened to anyone as a direct
result of anything my client ever said or did. Having said that, however, let me caution you, ladies and gentlemen, that you are indeed going to hear evidence of violence during this trial. And you got a bit of that from the government's opening yesterday. There will be evidence of violence regarding hostages who were held by a rebel group in the Philippines. This group calls itself Abu Sayyaf. And in or about March of 2000, it issued a long list of demands. There were many demands. And these demands were issued on the Philippine government in return for the release of the hostages they were holding. And included on this very long list of demands for the release of these hostages was a demand for Sheikh Rahman to be released from prison here in the United States. That is the connection of that incident to this case. You will also hear evidence of violence concerning the killing and wounding of many tourists at an archeological site in Luxor, Egypt on November 17, 1997. In determining the connection and importance of that incident to this case, keep in mind that this act of brutal violence -- and it was an act of brutal violence -- took place four months after there had been a call for peace by the Islamic Group with the Egyptian government. And this so-called peace initiative was supported by Sheikh Rahman. If this is alleged to have in fact been done by the Islamic Group, then I submit to you it was clearly done by some splintered group operating on its own without authority
from anyone. The government will also present evidence of violence concerning the bombing of the United States naval vessel, the U.S.S. Cole. This took place in Yemen on October 12, 2000 and resulted in the death of many U.S. crew members, as well as the wounding of several U.S. crew members. What is the connection of this bombing to this case, you may ask? Let me tell you. The only connection the U.S.S. Cole has to this case is a phone call that Sattar received on October 25, 2000 from an individual you have already heard about and you will be hearing about during this trial, Rifa'i Ahmad Taha Musa, or simply Taha. In this conversation Taha told Sattar that he had reported -- had heard it reported that one of the people responsible for the bombing involving the U.S.S. Cole was an Egyptian male. What Taha wanted to know was if this information could be utilized in any way for purposes of negotiating with the U.S. Government in gaining better prison conditions for Sheikh Rahman. Taha apparently believed that if it could be suggested that this incident somehow occurred as a reaction to the severe prison conditions of the Sheikh, then perhaps the U.S. Government would indeed reevaluate the Sheikh's severe prison restrictions. Sattar told Taha that he had absolutely no way of knowing whether this information could be utilized in any way. But what he tells Taha is, he says, listen, I will pass
this along to one of the lawyers representing the Sheikh; specifically, Ramsey Clark. I'll pass it along to Mr. Clark and let him decide whether this can be utilized in any way in negotiating with the government concerning Sheikh Rahman's prison conditions. As it turns out, Sattar never does pass this information along to Ramsey Clark. In fact, the evidence will show that nothing thereafter regarding the U.S.S. Cole was ever discussed or happens until nine months later, on July 13, 2001, when the conversation that Sattar had had with Taha is conveyed to the Sheikh during a prison visit. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the entire extent of any connection of the U.S.S. Cole to this case. It is nothing but talk. In fact, the government will admit and the Court will so instruct you at the appropriate time that with respect to the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping of hostages, with respect to the Luxor killings, with respect to the U.S.S. Cole bombing, there is no allegation that my client had anything to do with or participated in any way in any of these events. Once again, let me make this perfectly clear. The evidence will show that in fact there are no victims who the government will refer to and say, ladies and gentlemen, these people are the victims caused by what Mr. Sattar said or did. That's not going to happen. The government does not claim that Ahmed Abdel Sattar or anyone else on his behalf ever caused harm to anyone, or
that any of his conversations or actions resulted in injury to anyone. What it comes down to is that my client is charged with intending or agreeing with others through his communications that violence should occur. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, the evidence will show that Mr. Sattar never had any such intent. So what you as the jurors will have to decide, after you have listened to all of the evidence in this case, is, what was Ahmed Abdel Sattar's actual intent or state of mind during these many conversations? How do you determine what's intent based upon conversations or words that were used? I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that in order for you to be able to make a factual determination of the true intent of my client when you listen to any communications he may have had, you will have to ask yourself and evaluate two important things. First, you will have to place these intercepted communications in context. This means you will have to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the conversations at the time they were made. And, second, you will have to evaluate and understand the person himself, his background, his political and religious beliefs, who is this person, Ahmed Abdel Sattar? What is he about? During this trial we will attempt to show you both, who Ahmed Abdel Sattar really is and in what context these intercepted conversations were made.
Let's start with what the evidence will show about my client. Unless you know who he is, where he comes from, what makes him tick, you really cannot evaluate or begin to understand his true intentions based only on his reported words. He was barn in Cairo, Egypt in 1959, where several of his immediate family still reside. In 1979 to 1981, he served in the Egyptian army, which is the only time, I might add, he ever possessed a weapon. He lived in Egypt until he came to New York on a tourist visa and settled in Brooklyn in 1982. He thereafter met and married his wife Lisa, an American citizen who was born and raised in this country. She grew up in a catholic home. And in 1993, she converted to the Muslim faith. He and his wife have four children together and they currently live in Staten Island. In 1985, he received his U.S. residence card and in 1989 he became a United States citizen. In 1988, Mr. Sattar began working at the U.S. Post Office where he worked right up until the day he was arrested in April 2002, which, I might add, is the only time he has ever been arrested in his life. Contrary to the government's argument and the serious charges brought against Sattar, he is not a man of violence, and everything he ever did was done in the open. His life was an open book for you to see, for me to see, for them to see. You will see from that and hear from his many interviews he had
with the press that what Sattar knew from living in this country for many years was that if you wanted to make your case, which for him was to make people aware of the horrific conditions suffered every day in Egypt, as well as the American government's terrible policies toward the Middle East, then you had to do what I referred to as work the press. This means he had to continue to be available to the press and make his position known. He did this time and time again. You will learn from his many interviews with the press that Sattar's position regarding violence and terrorism is very clear. He personally condemns terrorist acts of violence. In fact, he condemns all killing, doesn't matter where it happens. He believes that killing innocent people is not a solution for anything. Does he sympathize, however, with those who represent armed opposition? Yes. But only if it is in self-defense to those who oppress the helpless, such as the Egyptian government with its own people, and then only if negotiations fail. Is he saddened that America is no longer viewed in the eyes of the Islamic world as it once was, namely, the oasis for democracy and hope? Yes. Is he opposed to the American government's policies when it comes to support for Egypt, Israel and the Middle East? Yes. Do his politics and his opposition to America's policies toward Egypt, Israel, and the Middle East cause him to want any harm to come to this country?
No. Never. You have already heard a great deal about Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, and much of the evidence in this case will have to do with the Sheikh. In fact, as I recall, Mr. Morvillo in his opening, the very first thing he did yesterday, put the picture of the Sheikh right up on that screen. Therefore, to fully understand my client it is also important for you to have some understanding of how and why was my client drawn to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. What was it about the Sheikh that attracted Sattar to him? The evidence will show that Sheikh Rahman, like Sattar, is Egyptian. He was considered by many Egyptians to be very brave simply because he did not fear speaking out against the cruel treatment of millions of Egyptians by the Egyptian government.

He didn't just express his opposition to the government of Egypt in general terms by talking of the terrible poverty and living conditions of millions of Egyptian citizens. But he spoke out against the corruption of the government itself and lectured on how Muslims should revolt against the oppressor. To the sheikh that meant Nasser, Sadat or Mubarak. And for the reason being they failed their own people. Sheikh Rahman was a clerk, an Imam, or leader of prayer, and an Islamic religious scholar. Sattar, a very religious man himself, related to the sheikh's criticism of the Egyptian government. He too views it as a government which refuses basic rights for individuals who simply may oppose or speak out against the inequalities that the government encourages. Those who dare to speak out are rewarded in most cases with imprisonment without any trial or opportunity to defend oneself. And then ultimately the worse imaginable prison conditions and torture. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is for those who are fortunate enough not to simply be killed or disappear without a trace never to be heard from again. Sattar was living in the United States for many years before the sheikh came here on a tourist visa in 1990. And since Sattar was born and lived in Egypt until he was 23 years old, it is not surprising that he had not only heard of the sheikh but admired him from afar. Sattar's own politics stem
from growing up in Egypt under one dictatorship after another and seeing firsthand how the people have no hope for a better life. Here in the United States he was politically frustrated that the U.S. government would think only of Egypt as an ally and friend since it is seen as a more moderate Arabic country than some of its neighbors. To Sattar, however, it is a country he loves but has always been governed by an oppressive government. Everything about Sattar's politics -- everything -- is directed at wanting to see change in Egypt. And it was for this reason he looked to the sheikh as a symbol and a spokesman for that very possibility. If any of his politics is directed towards the United States, it is only as it pertains to the United States foreign policy towards the Middle East. He is a U.S. citizen who loves this country -- his country -- deeply. The fact that he may disagree with its policies does not lessen his love for it. So it was this admiration for the sheikh's politics toward Egypt, coupled with Sattar's own Islamic activism, that caused him to attend the sermons given by the sheikh at different mosques here in New York City and New Jersey. When the sheikh was arrested in 1993 and faced various charges in this court, Sattar was approved by the court to work as a paralegal, along with other paralegals, to assist several lawyers who represented the sheikh.
One of the lawyers he met and worked with during this time period was his co-defendant in this case, Lynne Stewart. Another lawyer he worked with in assisting the sheikh was Ramsey Clark who, as you heard several times, was the U.S. Attorney general during the Lyndon Johnson administration. Sattar also met at this time his other co-defendant, Mohammed Yousry, a translator who also worked on the sheikh's case. Both Sattar's closeness and belief in some, but certainly not all -- and I emphasize "not all" -- of the sheikh's opinions continued even after the sheikh was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. To this day Sattar firmly believes that the sheikh was unjustly convicted for the crimes he was charged with. As early as 1997, when the sheikh had already been placed in solitary confinement in a special housing unit in prison, he expressed his wishes to those who were working on his case. What he wanted was a committee to be formed to monitor his case, letters to be sent to both politicians and newspapers, and for press releases issued to the media. Whatever role Sattar found himself in after the sheikh was tried and convicted was not one that he sought. It was thrust upon him simply due to both his closeness to the sheikh as a paralegal on his case and working on his case, and a believer in the sheikh's courage against Egypt. He attempted to satisfy the sheikh's wishes. He
helped form a committee to monitor the sheikh's case and gather support for the sheikh even after he was convicted. This had several purposes. One was to lobby and pressure prison officials for better conditions of confinement for the sheikh. This was necessary since the sheikh had been placed under the most restrictive and severe conditions imaginable. He had been segregated from other inmates and placed in solitary confinement and was eventually cutoff completely from the outside world and any contact with all visitors except his lawyers. Another purpose for the committee was simply to attempt to keep the sheikh's name out there in the public arena, both in the press as well as the Islamic world. It was important to Sattar that the sheikh not be forgotten simply because he was in prison. He felt it was his duty and obligation that the sheikh's voice continued to be heard throughout the Islamic community. This was important because it was Sattar's belief that the sheikh was one of the few remaining Arab leaders whose voice should not be silenced. All of this required Sattar to play what I describe as rough politics. He did this by becoming a demonstrator, a communicator, and press secretary, all on behalf of the sheikh. Clearly, ladies and gentlemen, Sattar was not, never was, was never looked at or viewed as a policy maker. He was never a decision-maker, or even, I might add, ever a member of
this group you have heard about referred to as the Islamic Group. However, having been placed in this role he found himself communicating with individuals he had never communicated with before or for that matter to this date ever met. And from those communications the government has brought these charges. Of course, being Egyptian and a political activist Sattar was very familiar with the Islamic Group and its movement for change within Egypt. He also knew that the sheikh was one of the religious and spiritual leaders for the Islamic Group. So what is the Islamic Group? The Islamic Group was one of many such groups within Egypt that had fought for many years for change. Since its inception in the late 1970s until the present, all of its activities and actions were exclusively focused on and targeted toward the Egyptian regime. But by the time the sheikh was incarcerated the Islamic Group was a movement whose leadership was scattered over three different continents in and out of prisons. It was an organization that by 1997 was splintered and confused. These factions and contradictions arose within the various members in a power struggle over questions of the peace initiative, whether or not they should attempt to become a political party, and how the Islamic Group should communicate and negotiate, if indeed at all, with the Mubarak government.
Due to Sattar's initial role as a paralegal for the sheikh he communicated with many different individuals who represented these varying factions. He became a messenger for the sheikh. These individuals reached out to him, not the other way around. Because they knew he was in contact with the sheikh and the sheikh's lawyers. It was through these many communications that he also came to speak with one of the more militant individuals connected with the Islamic Group, this man Taha. Like the others who reached out to Sattar, Taha was an individual he had never previously spoken with or met. Certainly not a friend as described yesterday by the government. Let me take this moment once again to caution you. As I indicated earlier, your true challenge, I think, in this case is not to allow your emotions to get in the way of your being objective and impartial. I say this now because in fact, as you heard yesterday, you will hear about a statement issued by Osama Bin Laden and signed by Taha and others in 1998 calling for Muslims to kill Americans. It was a statement, I might add, which the leaders of the Islamic Group both denounced and criticized Taha for having supported. They felt it distracted from their true enemy, the Egyptian government, and only caused more problems for openly opposing America. You will also see a videotape that was broadcast in September of 2000. In this tape Taha is seen along with Osama
Bin Laden and others where they, like others before and others after them, called for the release of Sheikh Rahman. Again, I implore you not to let the mere mention or even in this case viewing of Osama Bin Laden prejudice your ability to objectively evaluate the evidence as it pertains to Sattar. That Sattar had contact with many different individuals, including Taha, who was more extreme than others, says nothing about his own beliefs and certainly nothing about his intent. Don't allow yourself to apply guilt against Sattar simply by those he associated and spoke with. In other words, avoid the trap of guilt by association, because it's such an easy and unfair trap to fall into. I told you some of what you will learn about the person of Ahmed Abdel Sattar, as well as how he came to be communicating with others, in order to assist you in determining the intent behind these words that you are going to hear, but, as I said, you will also have an opportunity through the evidence in this case to evaluate and form an understanding of his intent by putting his conversations in context of what was happening at the time they took place. As with any conversation, you cannot just look at the literal meaning of the spoken words to determine one's true intent. You have to look behind and beyond the words themselves. This is true of the communications my client had involving the fatwah, the peace initiative, and the efforts to
assist an individual in Egypt, which we also heard about yesterday -- Atia. Let's start with the fatwah. To simply look at the words alone, there is absolutely no way to describe them except to say they are hateful and they are ugly. I don't believe anyone would disagree with that. But in what context were they used? When were they used? Why was this statement issued in the name of the sheikh? What was Sattar's true intent, meaning, and purpose in assisting Taha in writing this fatwah or statement? Was it something done and expressed in the heat of the moment? The evidence will show that this statement was issued in early October 2000. It was not issued in a vacuum of world events. Since many of you may not recall the news events being reported during this time of what was happening in Israel, let me remind you. On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon, who at that time was the hardline head of Israel's parliamentary opposition, made an extraordinary visit to Jerusalem's holiest site, the compound around al-Aqsa Mosque. This was considered by many in the Muslim world to be nothing more than a provocation. It was clearly done to provoke and instigate a reaction on the part of the Palestinians, and it achieved its goal. There were, in fact, demonstrations. It was also during this time on October 2, 2000, that
a French cameraman captured shocking footage which was continually broadcast over the TV day in and day out. I am sure many of you may actually remember those vivid images very well. It was footage of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy being protected by his father who was hovering over him against a wall, pleading with those who were shooting, and in this case it was the Israeli soldiers shooting at the Palestinians who were demonstrating, and he was against this wall hovered over, pleading, putting his hands up telling them to stop. And the footage went on and it showed not only the shooting of the father but the killing of that 12-year-old boy. It was during this time period, and in this context, that conversations were intercepted between Taha and Sattar. In these conversations you will hear how Sattar expressed sadness over what had happened in Israel. He was also upset that even though the Palestinian people and Islamic community around the world were demonstrating against what was happening, there were no so-called Arab leaders speaking out and expressing their own outrage over these incidents. You will learn that Sattar is a firm believer that when atrocities are committed against his people, the great leaders should stand and speak out, stand strong and speak out against such actions. You will also hear how he felt that the Arab world community was abandoned by their leaders during this time. It was clear to Sattar that it was his duty to have the
sheikh respond to what was happening in Israel, whether in jail and isolated from the world or not. So when Taha called Sattar and tells him that he wants to write a statement in the name of the sheikh to respond to the news and he asks Sattar if he would edit it and assist him, Sattar agrees. Taha then writes this statement, or fatwah, in the name of the sheikh and sends it to Sattar to review, which Sattar does. He changes the title of this statement to make it clear that it is directed at the Israelis, and then he sends it out for it to be issued on a Web site. To Sattar this statement simply represented a way to get the people talking and wake the Arab leaders up to at least speak out regarding what was happening to the Palestinian people. He never, ever, considered this statement to be either a solicitation of violence or a terrorist statement. To him it was only a statement to defend those who were being trampled on by Israel. It was an attempt to show those who were being oppressed that there were leaders still out there, such as Sheikh Rahman, who had not forgotten them. Were the words terrible? Absolutely. But what was Sattar's true purpose and intent in agreeing to assist in the writing of this statement? It was done to have the sheikh's voice heard during a major world event. It was also Sattar's own reaction in the heat of the moment to the silence of other Arab leaders for not speaking out on behalf of those who have
no voice of their own. It clearly was never his intent for anyone to be killed. It is also clear that it was received in the Islamic community the way it was intended. It provided the sheikh's voice to the debate against Israel's policy toward the Palestinians and people in fact demonstrated and spoke out. It was not issued for any other purpose than this and it certainly was not issued by Sattar with the intent on his part to either conspire to kill or to solicit violence. Let me talk about what the evidence will show concerning the peace initiative. What was the peace initiative? The initiative was pronounced by the Islamic Group on July 5, 1997. It was the Islamic Group's attempt to negotiate in peace with the Egyptian government. It was an attempt to gain something in return for taking the position that the Islamic Group would negotiate in good faith and through peaceful means. What they wanted to achieve was a positive response from the Egyptian government. They had hoped that in return for this peace initiative the Egyptian government would release prisoners who were being held without ever having been afforded due process or, at a minimum, they wanted better treatment for those who were being held in the dungeons of the Egyptian prisons. Years went by with the initiative in place and nothing really significant ever happening by way of a response from the
Egyptian government. In fact, in late 1999, four members of the Islamic Group were murdered by the Egyptian government and it appeared, to some at least, that the peace initiative was not working and in its existing form. What developed thereafter were different positions from many individuals. Ultimately this resulted in at least two different factions that differed on how to best negotiate with the Egyptian government. One faction was located from within Egypt and it had contact with the prisoners themselves. They wanted to continue to negotiate the way they had been for years. This faction realized that even though there had been very little progress and change on the part of the Egyptian government, certainly toward the prisoners, certainly in releasing them, giving them better conditions, however, they were fearful that the government would retaliate against the prisoners if there was a breakdown in negotiations. The other faction located outside of Egypt felt the Islamic Group should take more of a hardline position. In other words, they believed that unless the Egyptian authorities began to do something to show their good faith, such as the release of prisoners, better prison conditions, or at least due process for new prisoners, then why should they continue to take a peaceful approach? This other faction believed in negotiating with the Egyptian government from a position of strength. Like in any
negotiations between two parties, it was their belief that even if they were incapable or had the ability to do this they should at least let the Egyptian government believe that they might very well. In other words, the Egyptian government need not know that they had not the ability or capability. And those who felt this way, like Taha, believed that the government would never do anything unless there was this concern or fear on their part. And though this group also accepted the initiative in principle, they refused to offer it free of charge to the Egyptian government. In other words, they refused to endorse the initiative unconditionally and without benefits in return for the Islamic Group and others. They felt the initiative had hurt, not helped, the Islamic Group and that the Islamic Group, as well as the prisoners, would have been better off if the initiative was implemented in stages. They believed that unless they negotiated from a position of at least potential strength the Egyptian government would never respond. Why should it? They had nothing to fear and it wasn't exactly in the government's interest to release those who they believed were working against its very existence. This is what Sattar was facing when he talked with Taha and others about the initiative. You will hear from Sattar's conversations with the sheikh's son, and others, that he was simply pushed into this
role and placed in the middle of these different factions. He did, however, feel very strongly that all viewpoints should be heard and presented to the sheikh. What Taha wanted was simply not to be shut out by those who felt differently. He also wanted support from the sheikh so that he would not be ignored. Sattar simply felt that Taha's position should at least be heard because he too felt the peace initiative was not working. Sattar believed that based on history at least the Egyptian government would only negotiate out of fear of possible military actions. That doesn't mean, ladies and gentlemen, that he believed or had any such intentions that military or violent acts should actually be carried out or that the Islamic Group should return to the days of violence. It simply meant that the Islamic Group should negotiate by putting more pressure on the Egyptian government and renegotiate from a position of strength, even if in reality the Islamic Group had absolutely none. Sattar was asked to find out what the sheikh's position was on this matter and at least support the idea that Taha's position be considered -- nothing more, nothing less. And that is all Sattar attempted to do by communicating with the sheikh about the initiative. That brings me to another subject of this indictment which you will be asked to consider as well, as mentioned by
Mr. Morvillo yesterday. This has to do with an individual named Atia. There are several conversations between Sattar and individuals in Egypt regarding this man Atia that take place over several months. This isn't just one or two conversations contained within a few weeks. Sattar found himself connecting Taha and others with those inside of Egypt who were allies of Atia and were trying to help him get out of the country and away from the Egyptian authorities. The evidence will show that Sattar attempted to do nothing more than assist Atia in escaping from Egypt. He did not even know who this person was at first -- this person who was trying to get out. All he came to realize was that Atia was a fellow Egyptian in need of help. If Taha had any additional agenda beyond wanting to communicate his own point of view to Atia, Sattar did not share in that agenda. Sattar's only concern was to help a brother get out of Egypt. It certainly was no secret to Sattar that if anyone was a fugitive from the Egyptian authorities he was in grave danger if caught. The result would be torture and/or death. And it was for this reason, and this reason alone, that Sattar assisted in providing the communication link for Atia to others in attempting to flee Egypt. Tragically, as it turned out, Sattar's worst fears were realized. Atia was in fact captured and killed by the Egyptian police on October 18, 2000. Sattar understandably was devastated because he felt responsible. It
was his belief at the time that the Egyptian authorities had somehow intercepted his communications with Atia and his allies and, consequently, were able to track him down. It is interesting to note that the only evidence in this case where anyone -- anyone -- is ever a victim during either the time period that the government maintains was a conspiracy to kill or kidnap or the conspiracy to solicit violence was the killing of Atia, and that was done by the Egyptian police. In conclusion, let me just say that both the allegations that Sattar conspired with others to kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country as stated in Count 2, and that he solicited others to engage in violent terrorist operations as stated in Count 3, were to have taken place from September '99 through the date of his arrest in April 2002. The evidence will show during this entire period of time the United States government was intercepting all of my client's communications right up to one month before he was arrested. Amazing as it might seem but for those 7 years, beginning in March '95, when coincidentally he was actually assisting in the defense of the sheikh during his trial, and continuing these interceptions all the way to March 2002, they listened to every word spoken, e-mailed or faxed by my client. They listened very carefully to my client during this entire period. They listened to his communicating with Taha in
assisting the fatwah, in issuing the fatwah. They listened to his assisting Atia, and they listened while he received the sheikh's opinion on the initiative. And yet it is obvious that during this entire time the government did not believe that any of my client's communications was of very much concern. Certainly he did not present any cause for alarm or fear of a realistic, imminent threat or danger to anyone. I submit to you that the government did not believe, nor did it have any reason to suspect, that any of my client's communications would result in the killing or kidnapping of anyone or that a crime of violence was actually being solicited and about to be committed. Why do I say this? Because the evidence will show that the communications with the sheikh concerning his withdrawal of support for the initiative was in May and June of 2000. The conversations regarding the assistance to Atia took place for several months and continued to October 2000. And the fatwah -- this fatwah that was issued in October 2000 -- and yet the government did not arrest my client until April 2002, over 1-1/2 years after the fatwah. You can be sure, ladies and gentlemen, that if the government really suspected or feared something was about to occur, or there was any concern that my client was a real threat to anyone, they would not have awaited to arrest him until 1-1/2 years later. And you can't just casually sweep this fact under the rug as Mr. Morvillo did yesterday at the
very near end of his opening remarks. You can't just say, oh, the reason for the delay in any arrest was really due to national security interests that took precedence over any criminal investigation. Really? Took precedence over someone about to be killed or violence about to happen? I don't think so. I submit to you that it's more likely that Sattar wasn't arrested for over 1-1/2 years because the U.S. authorities never had any cause to fear Sattar because he was never a true danger to anyone. All of what I have said only underscores the importance for each of you to keep an open mind and wait until you have heard all of the evidence. If you do that, and you evaluate the facts of this case objectively in a fair and impartial way, then you will have upheld your oath as a fair and impartial juror that you have assured us you would do, and no one could ask more of you than that. I am also confident that if you do this and apply the facts of the case to the law as given to you by Judge Koeltl at the end of this case, then you will agree that the government has failed to prove Ahmed Abdel Sattar guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to any of the charges and your verdict should be just that -- not guilty. Thank you.


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2005-07-22 Fri 19:13:47 cdt
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