February 17, 2006

Three plead not guilty to new NY terror indictment

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York jazz musician, a Florida
doctor and a Maryland medic pleaded not guilty on Friday to a
new indictment in an expanding probe of support for terrorism
that stems from an FBI sting operation.

Lawyers for the three men complained about their prison
conditions during the hearing in Manhattan federal court.

The three Muslim men, Tarik Shah, 43, Rafiq Sabir, 51, and
Mahmud Faruq Brent, 31, prayed with relatives and supporters
before pleading not guilty of conspiring to aid terrorist
organizations in the Middle East between 2001 and 2005.

A fourth defendant, Brooklyn bookstore owner Abdulrahman
Farhane, 51, also appeared after pleading not guilty last week
to the new indictment, which accuses him of introducing Shah to
an FBI informant and agreeing to help transfer funds to buy
weapons for use by jihad fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

Sabir's lawyer, Edward Wilford, told the hearing he planned
to file a motion on behalf of all the defendants seeking to
release them from solitary confinement, where he said they were
being held inside 24 hours a day under prison lights.

Farhane's lawyer, Michael Hueston, said his client was not
allowed to shower for three days after he was denied bail and
jailed last week.

After the hearing, Shah's lawyer, Anthony Ricco, said it
did not make sense for the government to argue such defendants
were held in solitary for their own protection when they could
be put into the general jail population upon conviction.

"We are very concerned about men who have never been in
jail before being held in conditions designed to punish," he

Much of the evidence in the case comes from tapes of
conversations between the defendants and the main FBI informant
in the case, Mohamed Alanssi. Alanssi set himself on fire in
front of the White House in November, 2004, before he was due
to testify in a separate terrorism trial.

Shah has already been accused of agreeing to provide
martial arts training to al Qaeda members while Sabir is
accused of agreeing to give medical help to wounded al Qaeda

Brent attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan run by
the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to the indictment.