Lawyer says teenage NY terror suspect autistic - New York News

Lawyer says teenage NY terror suspect autistic

Posted: Updated:

ADAM GOLDMAN and FRANK ELTMAN

BAY SHORE, New York (AP) — A young New York man caught boarding a plane on his way to Yemen to fight with an al-Qaida affiliate is a teenager who was diagnosed with autism and didn't understand the gravity of what he was doing, his attorney told The Associated Press.

Justin Kaliebe, 18, pleaded guilty in a secret federal court proceeding in February to a charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before he is sentenced Sept. 27. His condition could be considered in determining his sentence. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

"Justin Kaliebe is a gentle, misguided, autistic teenager who does not have the ability to fully understand the magnitude and consequences of his actions," defense attorney Anthony La Pinta said in a statement to the AP.

La Pinta, who joined the defense team after the guilty plea was entered, said he has medical documents showing that Kaliebe was diagnosed with autism as a young child, but he would not release them.

Authorities have declined to say why the plea was entered in secret, though the move could mean Kaliebe was cooperating in the investigation when it was at a sensitive stage.

Kaliebe, who converted to Islam about three years ago, apparently was swept up in the New York Police Department's ongoing investigation into the activities of Muslims throughout the region. Counterterrorism agents and NYPD officers intercepted him Jan. 21 as he tried to board a flight to Oman on his way to Yemen.

Acquaintances, including the imam at a Long Island mosque he frequently attended, have described him as emotionally immature and a child of divorce who seemed in need of psychiatric counseling.

According to court papers, Kaliebe told an undercover operative pretending to be a confidant, "There is no way out for me. ... The only way out is martyrdom."

The NYPD has long had an interest in converts to Islam as part of its efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, saying in a 2007 report that they are "particularly vulnerable" to radicalization.

Prosecutors allege Kaliebe began plotting to join al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula in 2011 while he was in contact with an undercover operative, who recorded their conversations.

"Kaliebe indicated that he wanted to join a group 'for the sake of Allah,'" documents show.

A 20-year-old friend, Ahmad Deib, said he doesn't believe Kaliebe was capable of terrorism.

"This is a case of entrapment. This kid, he couldn't hurt a fly. He is one of the most kindhearted kids you would ever know."

Friends said Kaliebe's home life was not ideal. His parents were divorced in 1998 when he was a toddler, said Bilal Hito.

"There was something about Justin that made you feel you were around a little boy," Hito said.

Deib said Kaliebe once confided that he had stopped taking antidepressants because he didn't like the way they made him feel.

Imam Abdul Jabbar said in an interview that Kaliebe even asked if he could live in the mosque.

La Pinta disputed reports that his client had a lousy home life.

___

Goldman reported from Washington.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

  • New York State NewsNew York State NewsMore>>

  • RV offers legal help outside NY, NJ family courts

    RV offers legal help outside NY, NJ family courts

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:09 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:09:22 GMT
    A new assistance program in New York and New Jersey seeks to help parents settle child support battles.
    A new assistance program in New York and New Jersey seeks to help parents settle child support battles.
  • Hurricane Cristobal to move toward north Atlantic

    Hurricane Cristobal to move toward north Atlantic

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:11 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:11:47 GMT
    Hurricane Cristobal is expected to move rapidly toward the north Atlantic, staying away from Bermuda and passing south of Nova Scotia. The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Thursday are near 75 mph (120 kph) with no significant change in strength forecast over the next two days. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cristobal is centered about 285 miles (460 kilometers) northwest of Bermuda and is moving northeast near 29 mph (46 kph).
    Hurricane Cristobal is expected to move rapidly toward the north Atlantic, staying away from Bermuda and passing south of Nova Scotia. The hurricane's maximum sustained winds early Thursday are near 75 mph (120 kph) with no significant change in strength forecast over the next two days. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cristobal is centered about 285 miles (460 kilometers) northwest of Bermuda and is moving northeast near 29 mph (46 kph).
  • Metro-North safety practices faulted

    Metro-North safety practices faulted

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:07:45 GMT
    The Metro-North Railroad has sacrificed safety for on-time performance, according to a report released Wednesday by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority panel. The report echoes an assessment conducted this year by the Federal Railroad Administration, which investigated after a string of Metro-North accidents including a December 2013 derailment that killed four riders in the Bronx.
    The Metro-North Railroad has sacrificed safety for on-time performance, according to a report released Wednesday by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority panel. The report echoes an assessment conducted this year by the Federal Railroad Administration, which investigated after a string of Metro-North accidents including a December 2013 derailment that killed four riders in the Bronx.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Mayor pushes back pre-k concerns

    Mayor pushes back pre-k concerns

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:16 PM EDT2014-08-29 02:16:46 GMT
    Mayor Bill de Blasio, educators and city leaders gathered at p.s. 307 in Brooklyn on Thursday to talk with pride about more than 50,000 kids who have enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Universal full-day pre-k was a platform of his campaign when he ran for mayor.Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina also feels the pre-k program is ready for launch.
    Mayor Bill de Blasio, educators and city leaders gathered at p.s. 307 in Brooklyn on Thursday to talk with pride about more than 50,000 kids who have enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Universal full-day pre-k was a platform of his campaign when he ran for mayor.Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina also feels the pre-k program is ready for launch.
  • Revel closing, but property fight goes on

    Revel closing, but property fight goes on

    Thursday, August 28 2014 9:34 PM EDT2014-08-29 01:34:07 GMT
    A casino piano tuner in Atlantic City is fighting the state's attempt to seize his late parents' house as part of a redevelopment project connected to the closing Revel Hotel Casino. Charlie Birnbaum says the house in the shadow of the failed casino was his father's livelihood. He says he is attached to the home, even though his mother was killed there in 1998.
    A casino piano tuner in Atlantic City is fighting the state's attempt to seize his late parents' house as part of a redevelopment project connected to the closing Revel Hotel Casino. Charlie Birnbaum says the house in the shadow of the failed casino was his father's livelihood. He says he is attached to the home, even though his mother was killed there in 1998.
  • 'Resting comfortably'

    Joan Rivers rushed to NYC hospital

    Joan Rivers rushed to NYC hospital

    Thursday, August 28 2014 9:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 01:22:56 GMT
    Joan Rivers was reportedly rushed to a hospital in New York City Thursday morning after she stopped breathing during a throat surgery.  The TV host and comedian was apparently undergoing the procedure in a clinic when she stopped breathing.
    Joan Rivers was reportedly rushed to a hospital in New York City Thursday morning after she stopped breathing during a throat surgery.  The TV host and comedian was apparently undergoing the procedure in a clinic when she stopped breathing.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices