Friday 23 March 2018

Man accused of recruiting 'Jihad Jane' in Ireland to face appeal hearings in October

Ali Charaf Damache
Ali Charaf Damache

Ruaidhrí Giblin

The Court of Appeal will hear two sets of proceedings in October concerning an Irish-Algerian wanted by US authorities on international terrorism charges.

Ali Charaf Damache (50), who had been living here for more than a decade, is wanted in the United States to face charges relating to the conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

Mr Damache, with a last address as High Street, Waterford, was involved in lengthy extradition proceedings brought by the State but the High Court refused to order his surrender in May of last year.

In refusing to order Mr Damache's surrender, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said there were “substantial grounds for believing that Mr Damache will be at real risk of being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment if extradited to the USA.”

The Attorney General had appealed the High Court's refusal to surrender Mr Damache. However, his barrister, Mark Lynam BL, told the Court of Appeal last December that Mr Damache had been arrested in Spain following an "international alert".

Mr Lynam told the court today that Mr Damache was still going through the extradition process in Spain and it was unknown when that process would be finalised.

Whatever the outcome in Spain, Mr Lynam said the DPP wished to proceed with their appeal against the High Court's refusal to surrender even though “we say its fundamentally moot”.

Damache will also appeal against the severity of his sentence. In a reversal or positions, Mr Lynam said the State will argue that this appeal is moot and he asked the court to deal with all matters on the same date.

Mr Justice George Birmingham agreed with this “sensible” suggestion and he provisionally fixed all matters for October 28 next - “Damache day” the judge remarked.

Mr Damache had initially pleaded not guilty at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court to sending a menacing phone call to Majed Moughni in January 2010 but pleaded guilty to the charge on day six of his trial.

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended by Judge Donagh McDonagh at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court on February 27, 2013.

Mr Damache was arrested by gardaí in Waterford Courthouse on foot of a High Court warrant just minutes after he had pleaded guilty to the charge of sending a menacing message.

The High Court previously heard the US alleges it has evidence that Mr Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose - who used the online name “Jihad Jane” - and others to create a terror cell in Europe capable of targeting both US and western European citizens.

It is alleged Mr Damache - who went by the username “Theblackflag” - also participated in a conspiracy to transfer a passport stolen from a US citizen to an individual in Pakistan whom the conspirators believed to be a member of Al Qaeda.

It is contended that part of the alleged conspiracy was to recruit women whose appearance would allow them access to and the ability to travel around Europe.

In January of 2014 LaRose was jailed for ten years by a Philadelphia judge, having admitted her involvement in a plot to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who sparked an international controversy by depicting the Prophet Mohammed on the head of a dog.

If found guilty in the US, Mr Damache could face up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers had argued would be “a lot more” than would be imposed here in Ireland.

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