Prosecutors seek to drop charges in case of alleged terrorist sympathizer
Federal prosecutors in Santa Ana have asked a judge to dismiss perjury and naturalization-fraud charges against a Tustin man described in a court hearing last year as a terrorist sympathizer who regarded Osama bin Laden as "an angel" and allegedly planned to blow up buildings.
Though Ahmadullah Sais Niazi was not charged as a terrorist, prosecutors argued unsuccessfully the hearing last year to have him held without bond. An FBI agent testified that Niazi, who was born in Afghanistan, initiated jihadist rhetoric with an informant and discussed obtaining weapons, blowing up abandoned buildings and sending money overseas to the Afghan mujahedin.
"Frankly, there is no amount of bail or equity in a home that can protect the citizens of this community," Assistant. U.S. Atty. Deirdre Eliot argued at the hearing in February 2009. Niazi was granted bail but placed under home detention. Federal officials said at the time that their investigation into Niazi was ongoing.
On Wednesday, lawyers for U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. filed court papers asking that the case against Niazi be dismissed due to "evidentiary issues, including the unavailability of an overseas witness."
Patrick R. Fitzgerald, chief of the office’s national security section, declined comment on the government’s request, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in Santa Ana. Prosecutor asked Carney to dismiss the case without prejudice, which would allow them to refile charges should circumstances change.
Neither Niazi nor his attorneys could be reached for comment.
-- Scott Glover