NEW YORK – Two men charged last week in a terrorism case traveled to Washington D.C. to shoot "casing videos" of the Capitol building and other potential targets, a prosecutor alleged during a bail hearing.
Prosecutors leveled the new allegations against Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed while challenging a New York judge's earlier decision to release Sadequee to house arrest at his mother's residence in Roswell, Georgia on $250,000 bail.
U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes reversed that ruling and ordered Sadequee, 19, held without bail after citing a pretrial report detailing the defendant's ties to Bangladesh, where he lived for the past several months and has a new bride.
"I feel that the risk of flight is just too great," Townes said.
Sadequee, 19, a U.S. citizen who grew up near Atlanta, is accused of lying to federal authorities amid an ongoing FBI terrorism investigation. He was jailed in New York on Saturday following his extradition from Bangladesh.
An FBI agent's affidavit accused Sadequee and Ahmed, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student, of meeting with at least three other targets of the FBI probe during a trip to Canada in March 2005. The men allegedly discussed attacks against oil refineries and military bases and planned to travel to Pakistan to get military training at a terrorist camp.
About a month after the men returned from Canada, they allegedly "went to Washington D.C. for the purpose of making a series of videos — we call them 'casing videos,'" prosecutor Colleen Kavanagh said Friday.
The pair made tapes of the Capitol, the World Bank, the Masonic Temple and a fuel depot in the Washington D.C. area that were to be shipped to "overseas brothers," the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Doug Morris argued that Sadequee, though charged with making materially false statements, was technically not facing terrorism charges. He also labeled his client's capture and extradition from Bangladesh "reverse rendition" — a spin on "extraordinary rendition," or the strategy of transferring terrorism suspects to third countries for interrogations.
Ahmed, who was indicted on suspicion of giving material support of terrorism, was being held at an undisclosed location. His court-appointed lawyer could not be reached for comment Friday evening.