Pakistani-American faces extradition hearing on NYC attack plot

Published 13/10/2017 in World

Pakistani-American faces extradition hearing on NYC attack plot

A Pakistani court on Friday delayed the extradition hearing of a Pakistani-American man accused of plotting attacks in New York City for Islamic State without fixing a new date, the man’s lawyer said.

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A Pakistani court on Friday delayed the extradition hearing of a Pakistani-American man accused of plotting attacks in New York City for Islamic State without fixing a new date, the man&rsquo-s lawyer said.

Talha Haroon, 19, was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 after U.S. authorities identified him as one of three men, along with a Canadian citizen and a man from the Philippines, planning attacks on Manhattan&rsquo-s Times Square and the city&rsquo-s subway.

His lawyer and family deny the charges.

Haroon&rsquo-s lawyer termed the investigation a sting operation carried out by an investigating officer motivated by career advancement.

&ldquo-The FBI projected this as a high-level story, but these people don&rsquo-t have the qualifications to kill a monkey,&rdquo- 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.

&ldquo-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,&rdquo- Ashraf added.

One of the accused men, 19-year-old Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, has been in U.S. 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 U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.

Prosecutors say Salic maintained a pro-Islamic State 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.

&ldquo-He was one of the best students in his school,&rdquo- Haroon&rsquo-s father said, adding that Talha moved to Pakistan in 2014 after finishing high school.

&ldquo-He is naive and speaks from his heart,&rdquo- Ashraf added. &ldquo-He is not the sort of boy who can commit such brutal acts.&rdquo-

U.S. 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.

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