Menu

Feds: Alleged Bush Plotter Wasn't Tortured

The Justice Department denied that the man accused of plotting with Al Qaeda to assassinate President Bush was tortured, saying that such claims appear to be "utter fabrication."

In court papers filed Wednesday, the Justice Department also said Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (search), a U.S. citizen, should be detained pending trial because he presents an "exceptionally grave danger to the community and a serious risk of flight."

Abu Ali's lawyers have expressed concern that the government's case may be based on evidence obtained through torture. At a hearing on Tuesday, Abu Ali offered to show the judge the scars on his back as proof that he was tortured by Saudi authorities.

"He has the evidence on his back," lawyer Ashraf Nubani told the court. "He was whipped. He was handcuffed for days at a time."

Abu Ali was charged Tuesday with the alleged plot, which prosecutors said was hatched while the man studied in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 2003.

Also Wednesday, a lawmaker expressed concern that Abu Ali's alma mater could be turning out Islamic radicals. Sen. Charles Schumer (search), D-N.Y., questioned whether the academy from which the 23-year-old recently graduated was another example of schools funded by and linked to terrorism in the United States and abroad.

In the Justice Department filings, the government points out that the seriousness of the charges against Abu Ali "militates strongly in favor of detention," adding that the suspect is a flight risk because he faces more than 80 years in prison and has "substantial ties overseas."

In addition, the Justice Department said that Abu Ali lived in Jordan from 1993 to 1997 and that he has close family members residing there. The United States claims that Abu Ali "admitted that he possessed a Jordanian passport that he had kept secret from the United States government."

As for Abu Ali's claims of torture, the Justice Department "submits that there is no credible evidence to support those claims, and that they are untrue."

The government points out that an American doctor gave Abu Ali a "thorough" physical exam on Feb. 21, after he had been transferred by the Saudi government to U.S. custody.

"The doctor found no evidence of any physical mistreatment on the defendant's back or any other part of his body," the Justice Department says in the court filing. "Moreover, the doctor specifically asked the defendant if he had been abused or harmed in any way, and the defendant said no."

The Consul at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh also met with Abu Ali while he was detained in Saudi Arabia, and "on no occasion did the defendant complain of any physical or psychological mistreatment," the Justice Department said.

Also of note, the indictment alleges that Abu Ali's co-conspirator in discussions about assassinating Bush was killed in a shoot-out with Saudi law enforcement authorities in September 2003.

The Justice Department also went into further detail about some of the documents allegedly found at Abu Ali's Falls Church, Va., home on June 16, 2003. An undated document praising the Sept. 11 attacks says the following, according to the indictment:

"In one of the most sophisticated, well-planned attacks seen in modern times, the Twin Towers, the source of providing $5 billion in annual aid to Israel, were destroyed," this document allegedly states. "And what is often conveniently forgotten is that the third plane turned the Pentagon, the symbol of American military supremacy, into a rhombus, whilst the fourth plane was shot down by the US themselves."

The Justice Department did not state in the court papers that Abu Ali wrote this document, but it did say that this document and other items found in his home make it "clear that even before he departed the United States for Saudi Arabia in September 2002, he already had come to embrace and support the violent ideology and objectives of al-Qaeda."

Family, Friends Back Abu Ali in Court

On Tuesday, family and friends who packed a Virginia courtroom to support Abu Ali laughed out loud when prosecutors alleged that the former high school valedictorian had plotted to assassinate Bush.

"Three words describe him: calm, quiet peaceful," said Jamal Abdulmoty, who knows the Abu Ali family. "He was very wise, very mature for his age. ... We cannot imagine" that he would be involved in an assassination plot.

Abu Ali had been detained for nearly two years by the Saudi Arabian government. His family sued the U.S. government shortly after his arrest there, claiming the Saudis were essentially holding him at the U.S. government's request.

He was returned to the United States and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court shortly after his arrival Tuesday at Dulles International Airport. He did not enter a plea, but his lawyer said he would plead innocent.

Despite the serious charges Abu Ali faces, his family said Tuesday it was a victory just to have him back in the United States.

"As long as Ahmed has his day in court, I know he will be innocent," said his mother, Faten Abu Ali.

His father, Omar Abu Ali, said Ahmed was born in Houston and raised in northern Virginia, just a few miles from the nation's capital. He attended the Islamic Saudi Academy and graduated as valedictorian.

The private school's teachings have come under scrutiny since the Sept. 11 attacks. Federal court documents in a case against another academy graduate suspected of terrorism indicate that student discussions following Sept. 11 took an anti-American bent and that some students considered the attacks legitimate "payback" for American mistreatment of the Muslim world.

Last year, the school also faced criticism for using textbooks that taught first-graders that Judaism and Christianity are false religions.

On Wednesday, Sen. Schumer immediately called for a Justice Department probe into the funding of the school. He also urged Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar to further disclose the nature and funding of the school.

"We need to know if the Islamic Saudi Academy is another example of the Saudi government turning a blind eye to terrorism. I hope that the ISA is not another madrassa in the United States," Schumer stated.

Abu Ali will be in court again Thursday. His lawyers hope to obtain his release pending trial.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge, Anna Persky, Jared Goldman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.