Appellant's Brief in Almerfedi v. Obama

By Larkin Reynolds
Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 6:42 PM

Today the government filed the public version of its appellant's brief in Almerfedi v. Obama (No. 10-5291), a habeas merits case.  In this appeal the government appeals Judge Paul Friedman's sole habeas merits opinion to date, a case in which he granted the writ to Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi.  Judge Friedman found the government's evidence did not prove the petitioner had been "part of" Al Qaeda.

At the district court, the government argued that Almerfedi was an Al Qaeda facilitator who frequented Al Qaeda guesthouses in Iran and helped fighters infiltrate Afghanistan to fight against coalition forces. The government urged the court to find accounts of Almerfedi's involvement with Jama'at al-Tablighi--an Islamic missionary organization that it claimed was used as a cover for terrorist activities--as corroborative of the "other evidence . . . establishing that petitioner was an al Qaeda facilitator."  The government's evidence did not convince Judge Friedman of either proposition.

On appeal, the government urges the panel to find that the district court proceeded from principles of law that were later overturned by the D.C. Circuit in Al Adahi.  It presents the following two questions for the court:

1. Whether the district court erred as a matter of law in failing to examine and take into account the mutually reinforcing nature of the evidence supporting the legitimacy of Almerfedi's detention.

2. Whether the district court erred in failing to consider whether the petitioner's implausible cover story was strong evidence supporting the denial of the writ.