FEBRUARY 25, 2009
Admitting concern that an indicted Afghan terrorist who planned to blow up buildings refers to Osama bin Laden as “an angel,” a California federal judge never the less granted the man bail this week.
Stressing the severity of the charges, outraged federal prosecutors objected to no avail. After a brief speech expressing his hesitations and admitting that he seriously considered not granting the bail, the judge in southern California’s Orange County proceeded to set it at $500,000.
Earlier in the week Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who lives in Tustin, had been arrested and charged for lying about his ties to terrorists in a bid to fraudulently obtain a United States passport. The FBI had been watching Niazi, who is the brother-in-law of bin Laden’s security coordinator, for years and a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment earlier this month.
The indictment says Niazi hid associations with “Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” groups including Al Qaeda, Hizb-i-Islami and the Taliban, when he completed nationalization papers five years ago. During one visit to Pakistan, prosecutors say Niazi visited Dr. Amin al-Haq, the security coordinator for Osama bin Laden.
Charges against Niazi include perjury, naturalization fraud, misuse of a passport obtained by fraud and making a false statement to a federal agency. He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison and a $1.25-million fine.
Still, Judge Arthur Nakazato was not convinced that Niazi should be held without bail. Besides the bond, Niazi will be electronically monitored and confined to his home. Judge Nakazato said he was troubled by Niazi’s history and the FBI testimony relating to his case but added that a person cannot choose his relatives, referring to Niazi’s ties by marriage to the world’s most famous Islamic terrorist.
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