Posted: Apr. 24, 2017 8:00 am Updated: Apr. 24, 2017 5:35 pm
NEW YORK (AP) A federal prosecutor said Monday that politically connected lawyers are using inaccuracies to whitewash charges against a prominent Turkish businessman as they try to get Turkey’s president and U.S. officials to resolve the case diplomatically. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Lockard said Reza Zarrab is charged with a “serious national security offense” despite efforts by former Republican New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to minimize his involvement in a multiyear conspiracy to allow the government of Iran and other entities to access U.S. financial institutions. Zarrab has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to process hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of financial transactions for Iranian businesses or Iran’s government. Authorities say those transactions are banned by U.S. and international sanctions.
Lockard criticized Giuliani and Mukasey both members of Zarrab’s legal team during a pretrial hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan. He said separate affidavits filed by Giuliani and Mukasey to explain their roles in the case mischaracterized the alleged crimes as not serious or harmful to the United States because no transactions involved weapons, nuclear technology or other contraband.
“The entities that benefited from this alleged scheme include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and agents or affiliates of that entity, Iranian banks that have been sanctioned for their role in providing financing for Iran’s nuclear programs, and Iranian commercial airlines,” he said. He said prosecutors would prove Zarrab and coconspirators worked with high-level government and banking officials in Iran and Turkey after offering those services to Iran in a letter personally addressed to then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Zarrab funneled tens of millions of dollars to high-level government and bank officials to facilitate and protect this scheme,” Lockard said. He also said Giuliani and Mukasey tried to “muddy the waters” by suggesting in their affidavits that the government had leaked through publicly filed court documents the fact that Giuliani and Mukasey had joined the case.
Lockard said it was not a confidential conversation when Zarrab’s lawyers notified prosecutors earlier this year that Giuliani and Mukasey planned to speak with Turkey’s president. He said it was necessary for prosecutors to reveal the meeting as they asked the judge to conduct a hearing to ensure that Zarrab was aware that law firms employing Giuliani and Mukasey had represented banks in the case and that he understood there could be a conflict of interest. Giuliani’s firm also has represented the government of Turkey. Zarrab’s criminal lawyer, Ben Brafman, declined to comment Monday after telling the judge he didn’t “want my silence to suggest that I agree with what Mr. Lockard just said.”
Zarrab, 33, of Istanbul, has been in custody since his March 2016 arrest as he arrived with his family in Florida for vacation. He is a well-known personality in Turkey partly because he’s married to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. A felony terror charge has been filed against a Muslim man who recently recorded himself on Facebook Live brandishing numerous guns outside of a Christian event and warning viewers in a profanity-laden denouncement to be scared and terrified.
Ehab Abdulmutta Jaber, 45, has been charged with one count of making terrorist threats after he slipped into a Worldview Weekend conference in Sioux Falls earlier this month, which featured a message from Shahram Hadian, a former Muslim turned Christian pastor who leads Truth in Love Ministries in Spokane, Washington. The event, held at Hilton Garden South, had been protested by approximately 70 members of the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls, who believed that the gathering was Islamophobic because it presented argument against the Islamic religion. Hadian s message was entitled Sabotaging America: Islam s March Towards Supremacy. Worldview Weekend President Brandon Howse also spoke on biblical prophecy.
Jaber had been spotted filming the event with his cell phone in the back of the room and was advised by a security guard that recording was not allowed. The Facebook Live video shows Jaber filming the cover of his Koran before scanning the crowd of approximately 500 people.
My name is John Smith, Jaber told the guard in being approached. The Muslim John Smith. After being ejected from the gathering because he was carrying a firearm, Jaber recorded another Facebook Live video in his car in which he brandished several handguns and rifles, warning viewers amid expletives to be scared.
There s about, probably 400 people in there, if not maybe 500. And now if you want to be really scared be scared, he declared, holding up his weapons one by one. Be scared. Be [expletive] terrified. Jaber was later interviewed by local television station KSFY, and told reporters that he was heartbroken to see that many people in that place.
They didn t show up for a Christian conference, he asserted. They showed up for an anti-Muslim rally.
Jaber contended to the news outlet that he regularly travels with the weapons and was simply exercising his Second Amendment rights.
I m not armed against the regular citizen. I m not armed against Christians or against Jews, or against women or against children. I m just armed against stupidity and oppression, he said. While the Sioux Falls Police Department initially declined to press charges, stating that everything [Jaber] was doing was legal, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and Lincoln County State s Attorney Tom Wollman concluded otherwise, announcing on Friday that Jaber had been arrested. They told the Argus Leader that the video appeared to be a violation of state law, which prohibits threats to commit a crime of violence with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.
Jaber is also being prosecuted locally as meth was found in his home during the investigation.
Hadian says that he is bewildered both by the conclusion of the Sioux Falls Police Department and the portrayal of Jaber in the media.
I m not sure if I m sure if the statement of the police officer is more baffling to me as a former police officer, or letting this guy seem like he s the victim, [saying], I was upset. I was heartbroken,’ he outlined in an interview with Howse over the weekend. There s lots of times that [we] get heartbroken over things, but we don t go brandishing weapons and have an arsenal and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Warning: Foul language
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The department of homeland security selects Mississippi as a new base of operations for its drones. Much of the evaluation of how to best to use the devices will be done right here in south Mississippi. Mississippi state university will lead the major research-and-development project for the department’s science and technology directorate.
Drone experiments will be conducted at several south Mississippi sites such as Camp Shelby, Stennis Space Center and the maritime environment accessible from the U.S. Coast Guard facilities on singing River Island in Jackson County.
Operations are expected to begin in the fall.