U.S. v. Abu Ali, No. CRIM.A. 05-53GBL.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtLee
Citation395 F.Supp.2d 338
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Ahmed Omar ABU ALI, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. CRIM.A. 05-53GBL.
Decision Date25 October 2005
395 F.Supp.2d 338
UNITED STATES of America
v.
Ahmed Omar ABU ALI, Defendant.
No. CRIM.A. 05-53GBL.
United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division.
October 25, 2005.

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David H. Laufman, Esq., Stephen M. Campbell, Esq., Assistant United States Attorneys, United States Attorney's Office, Alexandria, VA, for Plaintiff.

Ashraf Wajih Nubani, Esquire, Nubani Law Firm, Annandale, VA, Khurrum Wahid, Esquire, Carmen Vizcaino, Esquire, Wahid and Vizcaino, Miami, FL, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEE, District Judge.


THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Defendant Ahmed Omar Abu Ali's Motion to Suppress and Motion to Dismiss.

The defendant, Mr. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, is charged under various statutes that preclude a citizen from rendering, or conspiring to render, assistance or support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Mr. Abu Ali is charged with joining Al-Qaeda and participating in a plan to carry out terrorist activities within the United States, including a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States.1

Mr. Abu Ali was arrested on June 8, 2003, in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi government in connection with an investigation of the Riyadh bombings that occurred in May, 2003. In his Motion to Suppress, Mr. Abu Ali asserts two principal arguments. First, he alleges that he was tortured while in Saudi custody and that the statements he allegedly made in detention are, therefore, involuntary and must be suppressed. Second, Mr. Abu Ali contends that the United States and the Saudi Government acted as partners or "joint venturers" in his arrest and lengthy detention in Saudi Arabia. He also argues that the Saudi government's search of his dormitory room in Medina and the search of his residence in Falls Church, Virginia, violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. In his Motion to Dismiss, Mr. Abu Ali contends that because his arrest and lengthy detention were at the direction of the United States Government using the Saudi Arabia Government as a partner, joint venturer, or surrogate, the Indictment must be dismissed because the delay in his prosecution violates the Speedy Trial Act and his Sixth Amendment right to speedy trial.

The issues presented by these motions are set forth below. The defendant's motions are all denied because the Court, after having heard nearly fourteen days of testimony, is persuaded that the government has met its burden of proving that Mr. Abu Ali's statements were voluntary, and that the alleged defects in the aforementioned searches and Indictment do not violate Mr. Abu Ali's rights under the Fourth or Sixth Amendments.

With regard to the defendant's Motion to Suppress, the issues before the Court are: (1) whether any incriminating statements allegedly made by the defendant

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during his time in Saudi Arabia were made "involuntarily" as a result of "gross abuse" and "inherently coercive conditions" and are therefore inadmissible under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; (2) whether any incriminating statements allegedly made by the defendant were obtained by U.S. and Saudi officials in a manner that "shocks the conscience" of the Court and are therefore inadmissible under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; (3) whether any incriminating statements allegedly made by the defendant during his time in Saudi Arabia were obtained through custodial interrogations either (a) by United States and Saudi officials acting together in a "joint venture" or (b) by Saudi officials acting as "agents" of the United States, and are therefore inadmissible because the defendant was not afforded his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966); (4) whether the search of the defendant's dorm room in Medina, Saudi Arabia, conducted by Saudi officials was unlawful because it lacked probable cause and therefore any evidence seized in that search should be suppressed; (5) whether the search of the defendant's home in Falls Church, Virginia, was authorized pursuant to information obtained from an unlawful interrogation of the defendant and therefore any evidence seized in that search should be suppressed.

The Court denies the defendant's Motion to Suppress because it finds: (1) that the government has demonstrated by a "preponderance of the evidence" that any incriminating statements allegedly made by the defendant were "voluntary" and not the result of "gross abuse" or "inherently coercive conditions" and therefore that the statements are admissible evidence for trial; (2) that neither the conduct of U.S. nor Saudi law enforcement officials in the arrest, detention, or interrogation of the defendant "shocks the conscience" of the Court; (3) that (a) U.S. law enforcement officials did not act in a "joint venture" with Saudi officials in the arrest, detention, or interrogation of the defendant and (b) Saudi law enforcement officials did not act as agents of U.S. law enforcement officials, and therefore Miranda warnings were not required; (4) that Saudi law enforcement officials did not act in a "joint venture" with U.S. law enforcement officials when conducting their search of the defendant's dorm room in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and therefore that the Fourth Amendment is inapplicable to that search; (5) that there is no evidence that the warrant underlying the search of the defendant's home was unlawful or lacked probable cause.

With regard to the defendant's Motion to Dismiss, the issues before the Court are: (1) whether the conduct of United States and/or Saudi law enforcement officials in the detention and interrogation of the defendant "shocks the conscience" of the Court in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and thus requires the Court to divest itself of jurisdiction and dismiss the Indictment; (2) whether the current prosecution of the defendant, following his two-year detention in Saudi Arabia, violates the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(b) (2000), and therefore requires dismissal of the Superseding Indictment; (3) whether the current prosecution of the defendant, following his two-year detention in Saudi Arabia, violates the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy, public trial and therefore requires dismissal of the Superseding Indictment; (4) whether the current prosecution of the defendant is a "presumptively vindictive response" to the habeas corpus petition filed by his parents on July 28, 2004, and therefore violates the defendant's due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.

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The Court denies the defendant's Motion to Dismiss because it finds: (1) that neither the conduct of U.S. nor Saudi law enforcement officials in the arrest, detention, or interrogation of the defendant "shocks the conscience" of the Court; (2) that the government complied with the Speedy Trial Act because the criminal Indictment against the defendant was filed prior to his being taken into federal custody on federal charges, and therefore was filed within thirty (30) days of his arrest on federal charges as required by the statute; (3) that the Sixth Amendment right to speedy trial does not attach until the defendant has been indicted or arrested, and the defendant has not been prejudiced by any pretrial delay since the time of his indictment on federal charges on February 3, 2005, and his subsequent arrest on February 21, 2005; (4) the current prosecution is within the prosecutorial discretion of the government and the defendant has not advanced sufficient evidence to establish prosecutorial vindictiveness on the part of the government.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies the defendant's Motion to Suppress and Motion to Dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statement of the Case

On June 8, 2003, the defendant, Mr. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who is an American citizen from Falls Church, Virginia, was arrested in Medina, Saudi Arabia, based on information obtained by Saudi law enforcement officials that he was a suspected member of the al-Faq'asi terrorist cell located in Saudi Arabia. The defendant, who at the time was a student in Saudi Arabia, was held in Medina by the Saudi national security police, known as "the Mabahith," for several days, and his dorm room in Medina was searched by Saudi law enforcement officials. Following his detention in Medina, Mr. Abu Ali was transported to a Saudi detention facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

While at the facility in Riyadh, the defendant, upon interrogation by Saudi officials, allegedly made a number of incriminating statements regarding his involvement with a number of terrorist plots. The Mabahith agreed to a U.S. government request to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") and the U.S. Secret Service ("Secret Service") to provide questions for the defendant and to observe an interrogation of him through a two-way mirror. On June 15, 2003, FBI officials observed the defendant when he was interrogated yet again by Saudi law enforcement officials and allegedly made more incriminating statements and admissions. On July 18, 2003, the defendant allegedly made out a handwritten confession which he was videotaped reading on July 24, 2003.

In September 2003, the FBI interrogated the defendant without giving him Miranda warnings. Although Mr. Abu Ali allegedly made incriminating statements during the course of those interrogations, the government has indicated that it does not plan to use any statements obtained from those interrogations in its case-in-chief.

The defendant, through his Motion to Suppress and Motion to Dismiss, moves the Court to exclude all of the incriminating statements allegedly made by him because he alleges, among other things, that he was (1) tortured by Saudi officials to elicit those statements and (2) denied his constitutional rights under Miranda.

Among his allegations of...

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11 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Abu Ali, No. 06-4334.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • June 6, 2008
    ...effort to suppress the introduction of his various statements and confession made to the Saudi Mabahith, see United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338 (E.D.Va.2005), and trial commenced before the jury on October 31, On November 22, 2005, Abu Ali was convicted of all charges. He was subse......
  • U.S. v. Marzook, No. 03 CR 978.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 8, 2006
    ...to carry out such questioning in order to circumvent Miranda's mandates. See Yousef, 327 F.3d at 145-46; United States. v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338, 381 (E.D.Va.2005). "[T]he existence of the exception itself is based on the assumption that Miranda must apply to any portion of an overseas......
  • United States v. Karake, Criminal Action No. 02-0256(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 17, 2006
    ...110. It is worth noting the significant differences between the evidence presented in this case and that in United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338 (E.D.Va.2005). In Abu Ali, defendant alleged that he was whipped on his back, hung by his wrists from the ceiling of his cell, chained in a......
  • United States v. Ahmed, 12-CR-661 (SLT) (S-2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 24, 2015
    ..."onlyPage 51an arrest by U.S. federal authorities triggers the Speedy Trial Act") (emphasis in original); United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F. Supp. 2d 338, 384 (E.D. Va. 2005) (the Speedy Trial Act was not triggered when defendant was arrested by Saudi Arabian officials, but rather, ran from t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • U.S. v. Abu Ali, No. 06-4334.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • June 6, 2008
    ...effort to suppress the introduction of his various statements and confession made to the Saudi Mabahith, see United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338 (E.D.Va.2005), and trial commenced before the jury on October 31, On November 22, 2005, Abu Ali was convicted of all charges. He was subse......
  • U.S. v. Marzook, No. 03 CR 978.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 8, 2006
    ...to carry out such questioning in order to circumvent Miranda's mandates. See Yousef, 327 F.3d at 145-46; United States. v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338, 381 (E.D.Va.2005). "[T]he existence of the exception itself is based on the assumption that Miranda must apply to any portion of an overseas......
  • United States v. Karake, Criminal Action No. 02-0256(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • August 17, 2006
    ...110. It is worth noting the significant differences between the evidence presented in this case and that in United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F.Supp.2d 338 (E.D.Va.2005). In Abu Ali, defendant alleged that he was whipped on his back, hung by his wrists from the ceiling of his cell, chained in a......
  • United States v. Ahmed, 12-CR-661 (SLT) (S-2)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 24, 2015
    ..."onlyPage 51an arrest by U.S. federal authorities triggers the Speedy Trial Act") (emphasis in original); United States v. Abu Ali, 395 F. Supp. 2d 338, 384 (E.D. Va. 2005) (the Speedy Trial Act was not triggered when defendant was arrested by Saudi Arabian officials, but rather, ran from t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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