The High Court in Dublin has heard that a man wanted by the US on terrorism charges contacted a woman online telling her he was “a devoted jihadist”.
Ali Charaf Damache (49), an Algerian-born Irish citizen, previously with an address in Waterford, is wanted by the US authorities in connection with an alleged conspiracy to provide support to terrorists.
The charges relate to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
It is the second time his extradition case has been heard – earlier this month Mr Damache won an appeal at the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the DPP’s decision not to prosecute him in Ireland.
The Supreme Court also indicated the case should proceed before a judge other than Mr Justice John Edwards who previously heard the extradition case and had refused leave for judicial review.
Mr Damache appeared before the High Court today where the recently appointed judge Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly began hearing his case.
Opening the case Ms Cathleen Noctor for the Attorney General said a diplomatic letter from the US embassy in Dublin was issued on January 11th, 2013, seeking the surrender of Mr Damache aka “theblackflag”, who is wanted to stand trial for terrorism related offences in Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The court was told he contacted a Pennsylvania woman called Colleen La Rose, who called herself “Jihad Jane” online, saying he was “a devoted jihadist” living in Ireland.
It is alleged he arranged for her to travel to the Netherlands and Ireland so she could “avoid further scrutiny in the US” and gave her spiritual guidance.
The court was also told he planned to form a terrorist cell and wanted go to Pakistan for military and explosives training.
Women were not allowed travel alone into Pakistan for training and the court was told Mr Damache was to get men to accompany them to get them into the country.
If convicted in the US, he could face up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers say would be “a lot more” than could be imposed here.
Mícheál P O’Higgins SC for Damache told the court aspects of US sentencing “are fundamentally flawed”.
Reading from a affidavit of UCD academic Professor Ian O’Donnell, counsel told the court “US sentencing remains guideline centric”.
After the DPP decided in March 2011 not to prosecute him in Ireland, the US sought his extradition in 2012. He has been in custody since, pending the outcome of the extraction matter.
Mr Damache, who has been living in Ireland for more than 10 years, is wanted on charges alleging conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
The US alleges Mr Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose, who used the online name Jihad Jane, and others to create a terror cell in Europe.
LaRose was sentenced last January to 10 years in prison after being convicted of planning to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the head of the Muslim prophet Mohammad on a dog.
Mr Damache was remanded in continuing custody and the case continues tomorrow.