United States v. Shnewer; United States v. Al-Dellemy

1. United States v. Shnewer (D.N.J.)

A jury has convicted five men on charges that they conspired to kill servicemembers at Fort Dix.    DOJ’s press release is posted here: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/December/08-nsd-1142.html.  Excerpts follow:

…After 5½ days of deliberations, which began Dec. 17, 2008, the jury convicted Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, brothers Dritan Duka, Shain Duka and Eljvir Duka and Serdar Tatar on count one of the seven-count superseding indictment that charged them with conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military.  The jury acquitted each of defendants of count two, which charged attempt to murder members of the U.S. military.

…The remaining counts of the superseding indictment, which was returned in January, charged the three Duka brothers, who are illegal immigrants, and Shnewer with firearm offenses; including possession of machine guns.  See below for conviction details on each of the defendants.

The defendants’ arrests occurred on May 7, 2007, in Cherry Hill as Dritan and Shain Duka were meeting a confidential government witness to purchase four automatic M-16 rifles and three semi-automatic AK-47 rifles to be used in a future attack on military personnel.  The other defendants were arrested at various locations at about the same time.

…In convicting the defendants, the jury found that one member of the group conducted surveillance at Fort Dix and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard in Philadelphia.  The co-conspirator obtained a detailed map of Fort Dix, where they hoped to use assault rifles to kill as many soldiers as possible, according to trial testimony and evidence.

During the trial, the jury viewed secretly recorded videotapes of the defendants preforming small-arms training at a shooting range in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and watching training videos amongst themselves that included depictions of American soldiers being killed and of known foreign Islamic radicals urging jihad against the United States.

The defendants and the charges on which each was convicted are as follows:

•  Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 23, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the members of the U.S. military, and the attempted possession of AK-47 semi-automatic assault weapons to be used in the attack.

•  Dritan Duka, 30 of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military; possession of machine guns; possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence; and two counts of possession of firearms by an illegal alien.

•  Shain Duka, 27, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military; possession of machine guns; possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence; and two counts of possession of firearms by an illegal alien.

•  Eljvir Duka, 25, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military, and possession of firearms by illegal aliens.  The jury acquitted on one count of possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence.

•  Serdar Tatar, 25, of Philadelphia: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military.

A sixth co-defendant, Agron Abdullahu, 26, of Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, pleaded guilty before Judge Kugler on Oct. 31, 2007, to aiding and abetting the Duka brothers’ illegal possession of weapons.  Abdullahu was arrested on May 7, 2007, along with the defendants convicted today. On March 31, 2008, Judge Kugler sentenced Abdullahu to 20 months in federal prison….

2. United States v. Al-Dellemy (D. Md.)

An Iraqi man living in Maryland has pled guilty to conspiring to act as an agent for Iraq, based on his relationship to Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service in the past.  The press release is here: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/December/08-nsd-1141.html.  Excerpts follow:

Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, age 67, an Iraqi national living in Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, specifically, as an agent of Iraq, announced Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

“Since coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003, the Justice Department has charged at least a dozen people who served in the United States as illegal agents for the former Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein or its feared intelligence service, the Mukhabbarat. The number of these cases underscores the reach of Saddam’s intelligence service in America and the extent to which the former Iraqi regime was concerned with defectors and expatriate groups here,” said Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

“Documents recovered in Iraq by the United States Military led to Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy’s confession that he secretly worked as an agent of the Iraqi Intelligence Service under Saddam Hussein, using his restaurant as a meeting place and passing information to Iraqi agents,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Mr. Al-Dellemy lied about his work for Saddam Hussein regime when he was questioned by FBI agents in 2008, long after he became a lawful permanent resident of the United States.”

…According to the plea agreement, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) routinely recruited individuals, either currently in the United States or to be placed into the United States, to support the IIS and the Government of Iraq. Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, who became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 2000, was one of these individuals. He was born in Iraq and was a member of the Ba’ath Party. He came to the United States as a student in the 1980s. His education in the United States was paid for by the Ba’ath Party. In exchange, Al-Dellemy was expected to provide information to the Government of Iraq on matters of interest to the government and the IIS.

Following the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces in March 2003, the U.S. military obtained confidential IIS documents establishing that beginning in 1989, and continuing through the Saddam Hussein regime, Al-Dellemy, referred to in many instances by the code name “Adam,” had been providing information to officials of the Government of Iraq and intelligence officers with the IIS. This information included reporting on the identities and activities of individuals and organizations in the United States that were opposed to Saddam Hussein and his regime, and specifics regarding U.S. policy and actions towards the Iraqi government. The seized documents also established that Al-Dellemy periodically received payments from the IIS and the Iraqi government as compensation for his assistance and information.

Specifically, according the plea agreement, throughout the conspiracy Al-Dellemy performed tasks at the Iraqi Embassy and at the Iraqi Interests Section (ISEC), formed in 1991 within the Algerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., after the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iraq for invading Kuwait. For example, in 1990, around the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Al-Dellemy assisted in the shredding of Ba’ath Party and other diplomatic documents maintained at the Iraqi Embassy that could compromise the Saddam Hussein regime and identify those individuals in the United States who had been acting as agents of the IIS. Al-Dellemy also attended and organized social gatherings at the Iraqi Embassy and the ISEC, which were used to recruit individuals to work for the IIS; to interact with individuals who were already working with the IIS and Saddam Hussein’s regime; and to maintain the loyalties of the participants to the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Throughout the conspiracy Al-Dellemy made a restaurant he operated in Maryland available as a meeting place for IIS officers and Iraqi government officials, and utilized his restaurant as a means to gather information pertaining to U.S. government agencies near the restaurant, such as the National Security Agency and Fort George G. Meade.

Throughout the conspiracy, Al-Dellemy relied on fellow Ba’ath Party members and/or sympathizers to provide him with information about the Iraqi opposition in the United States, including members of the Iraqi community in Detroit, Michigan. Al-Dellemy also gathered information in Maryland regarding U.S. military training and travel concerning U.S. actions in Iraq.

Al-Dellemy, at the request of Iraqi government officials, sought out individuals for employment at the ISEC and in 2000, arranged for a coconspirator to be employed full-time at the ISEC as an accountant and a driver. This coconspirator continued his employment at the ISEC through March 2003, then resumed his employment at the Iraqi Embassy when it reopened in Washington, D.C., in December 2003. The coconspirator continued to work at the Iraqi embassy until March or April 2004. The coconspirator acted as a conduit between Al-Dellemy, Ba’ath Party members and loyalists in Detroit, and IIS and ISEC officials to transmit information of interest to the IIS, the Saddam Hussein regime, and the Ba’ath Party. Al-Dellemy was never recognized by the Department of State or the Attorney General of the United States as a diplomatic or consular officer of the Government of Iraq, or officially or publicly acknowledged and sponsored as an official, representative, or employee of Iraq.

According to the plea, Al-Dellemy never revealed his affiliation with the Ba’ath Party in applications to the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) for residency status in the United States, in an effort to conceal his activities as an agent for the Iraqi government. In addition, at the end of March 2003, Al-Dellemy and others destroyed numerous Ba’ath Party documents and related literature in his possession that would have compromised the activities of Al-Dellemy and his coconspirators as agents of the Iraqi government in the United States. On Oct. 13, 2008, during an interview with FBI agents, Al-Dellemy falsely denied passing information to the IIS and the Iraqi government, denied receiving payment from the IIS, and denied collecting information on the Iraqi opposition movement and reporting that information to the IIS.

Al-Dellemy faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to act as an agent for a foreign government. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for March 5, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

Lead Author

Robert M. Chesney
Robert M. Chesney is Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at UT-Austin School of Law. Chesney is a national security law specialist, with a particular interest in problems associated with terrorism. Professor Chesney recently served in the Justice Department in connection with the Detainee Policy Task Force created by Executive Order 13493. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security, a senior editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, an associate member of the Intelligence Science Board, a non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the American Law Institute. Professor Chesney has published extensively on topics ranging from detention and prosecution in the counterterrorism context to the states secrets privilege. He served previously as chair of the Section on National Security Law of the Association of American Law Schools and as editor of the National Security Law Report (published by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security). His upcoming projects include two books under contract with Oxford University Press, one concerning the evolution of detention law and policy and the other examining the judicial role in national security affairs.
Share these ideas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.