Pakistani-American faces extradition hearing on NYC attack plot

A New York City Police (NYPD) Counter Terrorism officer patrols in Times Square in New York City, US, March 22, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 13 October 2017

Pakistani-American faces extradition hearing on NYC attack plot

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Friday delayed the extradition hearing of a Pakistani-American man accused of plotting attacks in New York City for Daesh without fixing a new date, the man’s lawyer said.
Talha Haroon, 19, was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 after US authorities identified him as one of three men, along with a Canadian citizen and a man from the Philippines, planning attacks on Manhattan’s Times Square and the city’s subway.
His lawyer and family deny the charges.
Haroon’s lawyer termed the investigation a sting operation carried out by an investigating officer motivated by career advancement.
“The FBI projected this as a high-level story, but these people don’t have the qualifications to kill a monkey,” said the lawyer, Idrees Ashraf.
Ashraf said his client was only in contact with the investigating officer but never directly spoke with the co-accused, raising serious doubts about the nature of the investigation.
“According to the criminal complaint, the FBI agent communicated with Talha online, and has said he was active in IS, but no proof of militant links has been provided,” Ashraf added.
One of the accused men, 19-year-old Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, has been in US custody since May 2016. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in October 2016, prosecutors said.
The third accused, 37-year old Russel Salic, was arrested in the Philippines in April, according to the office of Acting US Attorney Joon Kim.
Prosecutors say Salic maintained a pro-Daesh social media presence, told the undercover officer he had been communicating with El Bahnasawy, and sent the officer about $423 from the Philippines to help pay for the attacks.
Haroon has been in custody for more than a year without being charged. A bail plea will be filed for his release at the hearing once a date is set, his attorney said.
“He was one of the best students in his school,” Haroon’s father said, adding that Talha moved to Pakistan in 2014 after finishing high school.
“He is naive and speaks from his heart,” Ashraf added. “He is not the sort of boy who can commit such brutal acts.”
US prosecutors said they expect Haroon and Salic to be extradited to face the charges, which include conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and to support a terrorist organization.
If convicted of the most serious charges, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.


Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Updated 42 min 59 sec ago

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal

BERLIN: Germany said Friday that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.
“A form of ‘nuclear agreement plus’ is needed, which also lies in our interest,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
“We have clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
The European Union and the United States were key signatories in the deal but US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has signalled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal, saying on Thursday: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”
He added that Western powers should look to their own behavior before criticizing Iran.
He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions dramatically escalated after Trump walked out of the deal.
In recent months, alarm has also grown over Iran’s regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which the West says destabilizes the region.