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Cablegate: Jordanian Terrorist Found Guilty with a de Facto 13 Month

VZCZCXRO7694
RR RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHAG #0008/01 0571928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261928Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL HAMBURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0220
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0001
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0198
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0004
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0001
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0001
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 0001
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0001
RUEHAG/AMCONSUL HAMBURG 0240

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMBURG 000008

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS, EUR/PPD, L/LEI, AND S/CT
JUSTICE FOR BARBARA BERMAN AND PATRICIA REEDY
DHS FOR MARK KOUMANS
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KJUS KHLS ASEC PREL GM
SUBJECT: JORDANIAN TERRORIST FOUND GUILTY WITH A DE FACTO 13 MONTH
SENTENCING

REF: A. A) HAMBURG 002
B. B) DUSSELDORF 002
C. C) 07 HAMBURG 0052
D. D) 07 DUSSELDORF 0037
E. E) 07 BERLIN 1398

HAMBURG 00000008 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 21, the Higher Regional Court
(OLG) in Schleswig convicted Jordanian Thaer Alhalah of founding
a foreign terrorist organization with Redouane El-Habhab and
Abdelali Miftah and sentenced him to a two year prison term
(Refs A and C). The conviction was primarily based on Alhalah's
role in acquiring and transferring money to support the
formation of a terrorist training camp in Sudan. The trial was
completed in just three hearings. Alhalah's far-reaching
confession at the opening hearing to having participated in
various Internet chats, IMs, and internet-based phone calls on
the planning of the camp was key to the trial's quick
completion. Prior to the beginning of the trial, the
prosecutor's office, the judges, and the defense agreed that the
highest sentencing Alhalah would obtain would be for two years
incarceration. This unusual but permissible agreement was
reached in order to avoid a long and detailed review of all of
the online evidence and to deport Alhalah as soon as possible.
He is expected to be deported to Jordan in April. The
prosecution agreed to accept Alhalah's overall incarceration for
only thirteen months in order to deport him in April and has not
made any arrangements with Jordan for further confinement upon
arrival. Alhalah renounced his right to appeal the verdict.
END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Yearning for Jihad and Al Qaeda Support
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) In the trial reading Chief Judge Michael Lautebach
stated that in June 2006 Alhalah was heeding Osama bin Laden's
call for a jihad against "crusaders" in Sudan by helping set up
terrorist infrastructure there with four accomplices, including
Redouane El-Habhab and Abdelali Miftah (Refs. A and C). The
judge pointed out that Alhalah completed a questionnaire for
El-Habhab, the group's leader, in which he advertised his
computer skills (e.g. ability to counterfeit passports) and said
that he was eager to join the jihad. However, the judge pointed
out that while the other cell members intended to travel to and
fight in Sudan, Alhalah was supposed to stay in Sweden/Europe as
a liaison person. [Note: El-Habhab was arrested the day before
he intended to fly to Sudan. End Note.] According to the judge,
the terrorist group, which Alhalah co-founded, strived towards a
connection to Al Qaeda. Alhalah swore an oath of loyalty to
Osama bin Laden on June 24, 2006. The judge also asserted that
the group requested a letter of recommendation from Al Qaeda
senior leadership in order "to open doors to the tribes in
Sudan."

--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------
Alhalah "Finance Minister" of Terrorist Organization
--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------

3. (SBU) Alhalah admitted to participating in various Internet
chats, IMs, and internet-based phone calls concerning jihadist
activities and the planned "resistance front" in Sudan. The
hearings revealed that Alhalah wanted to "take care of finances"
and that he referred to himself as the group's "finance
minister." According to evidence submitted, Alhalah solicited
2,000 dollars from Australian "brothers" which was to be used to
purchase a laptop for the Sudan "project." Alhalah also
acquired commitments from seven Australian "brothers" for
monthly contributions of 100 dollars each, which were to be
transferred through Western Union. Moreover, Alhalah informed
El-Habhab that there were "brothers" in Morocco who promised to
provide money through different "projects." In addition,
Alhalah was responsible for the planned monthly transfer of
400-600 Euros from El-Habhab's Internet cafi revenues in Kiel
for the jihadist cause. El-Habhab and Alhalah were arrested
before any of these transfers took place, however, according to
the prosecutor, El-Habhab received a phone call from Australia

HAMBURG 00000008 002.2 OF 002


the day before his arrest.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
The "Thank God Nothing Happened" Factor
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. (SBU) Although the crime of founding a terrorist
organization is punishable with one to ten years the judge
stated that he took the following factors into consideration
when deciding Alhalah's conviction: (1) Alhalah's confession
shortened the length of the trial, (2) a concrete danger did not
manifest itself, (3) Alhalah was not the driving force in the
organization. He pointed out the following incriminating
factors: (1) Alhalah's participation definitely carried weight,
(2) his efforts were partially successful, and (3) the actions
were on the verge of being manifested and could potentially have
resulted in great danger. The judge said it was appropriate to
sentence Alhalah to two years in prison to defend the German
legal order [Note: El-Habhab received two years and nine months
for the charge of founding a foreign terrorist organization.
End Note.]

-----------------------------------------
Background and Bio Information
-----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The trial against Alhalah started on February 13 at
the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Schleswig
and was completed within three hearings. Although Alhalah was
living in Sweden at the time the crimes were committed, the
Schleswig court established jurisdiction for the case by showing
that the crimes, in particular those committed by El-Habhab with
whom Alhalah was cooperating, were committed in Germany.
Alhalah was arrested in Sweden on March 19, 2007 and was
extradited to Germany on April 4, 2007.

6. (SBU) Thaer Hussein Mohammed Alhalah was born on July 7,
1974 in Kuwait. He is of Palestinian descent. He grew up in
Kuwait until the first Gulf War when his family fled the country
for Jordan. He graduated with a BA in geography in 1998 in
Bagdad and later went to Australia (from 2001 to 2003) and then
Stockholm (2005) to get a master's degree, which he never
completed. Although he arrived in Sweden with a student visa,
upon arrival he applied for asylum, first under a false name and
later under his real name. Alhalah worked occasionally as a
teacher in Jordan and in his family's restaurant.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Due to Alhalah's cooperation with the court
and Germany's desire to quickly deport him, this trial was
completed in record time. According to the evidence, Alhalah
played a minor role in this terrorist organization, particularly
compared to that of El-Habhab, and due to his arrest was not
able to carry out his fundraising activities. Although Alhalah
never displayed any remorse (as El-Habhab did), he only received
a two year sentence of which he will have served about thirteen
months by the time he will be deported to Jordan. Once there he
will walk free. The verdict most likely will serve as a
precedent for the case against Abdelali Miftah, which is
expected to begin in spring 2008. It remains to be seen whether
Miftah will also confess to his role in the terrorist
organization. If he does, based on the reasoning in the Alhalah
trial, then he will probably also receive two years for the
charge of forming a foreign terrorist organization. END
COMMENT.

8. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
JOHNSON

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