Terrorism Trials & Investigations

Abu Khattala Subject to Pre-Trial Detention

By Wells Bennett
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 1:11 PM

Such was the exceedingly unshocking result of this morning's exceedingly brief detention hearing in the criminal case against Ahmed Abu Khattala.

In his remarks, prosecutor Michael DiLorenzo essentially summarized his side's written filing. It had put forth various reasons why, under the Bail Reform Act, no conditions of release would ensure the public safety in advance of Abu Khattala's trial. The lawyer stressed, among other things, the accused's dangerousness, the weight of the evidence against him, his possession of a gun when apprehended, and the gravity of the crime in question. And DiLorenzo separately pointed out a rebuttable presumption of detainability---which applied under the circumstances, and shifted the burden to the defendant.

Abu Khattala's attorney, Michelle Henderson, contested DiLorenzo's case only partially.  She thought her client's carrying of a gun in war-torn Libya was especially inconsequential; she also complained of difficulty in beating back some of the government's other allegations---which, as she explained, have yet to be substantiated at all. On that point, Henderson said her side had not yet received discovery bearing on the government's factual claims.

But with those objections registered, the defense lawyer went on to concede that her client is (pending Peterson's receipt of further information) properly subject to pre-trial detention, given Abu Khattala's status as a foreign national, and the nature and seriousness of the crime with which he is charged: conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death, under 18 USC 2339A.

The case is set for a status hearing next week.