Cana­dian ter­ror­ist suf­fered from drug ad­dic­tion, men­tal health is­sues: Doc­u­ments

Northumberland Today - - NATIONAL - LIAM CASEY

A Cana­dian teen who ad­mit­ted plot­ting to at­tack New York City land­marks suf­fered from drug ad­dic­tion and men­tal health is­sues, newly re­leased court doc­u­ments show.

Let­ters from defence lawyers and a New York pros­e­cu­tor filed with an Amer­i­can court show Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, of Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., suf­fered a re­lapse in prison and tested pos­i­tive for a pre­scrip­tion drug used in opi­oid-ad­dic­tion treat­ments, a find­ing that led to the loss of fam­ily vis­i­ta­tions for seven months.

The let­ters also said a psy­chi­a­trist and a psy­chol­o­gist vis­ited the 19-year-old in prison, but details re­lated to both his drug ad­dic­tion and his men­tal health is­sues are redacted.

“He has a long his­tory of drug use, drug treat­ment, and re­lapse,” his lawyers, Sabrina Shroff and Clay Kamin­sky, wrote in a letter to Judge Richard Berman as they ar­gued for the court to re­store his fam­ily vis­its.

The lawyers noted that El Bahnasawy’s fam­ily had trav­elled fre­quently from On­tario to New York to visit him at the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Man­hat­tan un­til his vis­its were halted after a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing on Nov. 22, 2016.

The defence team also painted a pic­ture of a lonely teen.

Save for an un­spec­i­fied amount of time spent in an in­pa­tient drug treat­ment pro­gram, his lawyers said the teen lived with his par­ents, Osama El Bahnasawy, Khadiga Met­wally, and his older sis­ter, Basma El Bahnasawy, for his en­tire life.

“He has no friends out­side of his close-knit fam­ily,” the lawyers wrote.

Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy was born in Canada and spent much of his time in the coun­try, but lived a few years in Kuwait, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script re­cently un­sealed by the court. He told a judge he never fin­ished Grade 11 in Canada.

On Friday, of­fi­cials in the U.S. re­leased details of El Bahnasawy’s guilty plea to mul­ti­ple ter­ror­ism­re­lated charges, which was heard by a New York court last Oc­to­ber. The records were sealed as fed­eral agents wor­ried about tip­ping their hand to two other sus­pects who were out­side the coun­try.

De­spite the var­i­ous al­lu­sions to men­tal health is­sues in court doc­u­ments, El Bahnasawy told a judge he felt well men­tally and phys­i­cally when he pleaded guilty. The judge deemed him men­tally com­pe­tent to en­ter the plea.

In late Au­gust, his lawyers ar­gued for more time to pre­pare for sen­tenc­ing, say­ing a psy­chi­a­trist and a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist “need more time for their work with Mr. El Bahnasawy to be help­ful and mean­ing­ful to the court.”

“Mr. El Bahnasawy him­self needs time for his con­di­tion to con­tinue im­prov­ing so that he can fully par­tic­i­pate in his pre­sen­tence in­ter­view and sen­tenc­ing,” his lawyers wrote to judge on Aug. 25.

Details about both ex­perts’ deal­ings with El Bahnasawy are redacted.

El Bahnasawy is sched­uled to be sen­tenced in De­cem­ber.

U.S. author­i­ties al­lege he and the two oth­ers ac­cused in the case com­mu­ni­cated through In­ter­net mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, al­legedly plot­ting to carry out bomb­ing and shoot­ings in heav­ily pop­u­lated ar­eas of New York City dur­ing the Is­lamic holy month of Ra­madan in 2016.

El Bahnasawy was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with an un­der­cover FBI agent pos­ing as an ISIS sup­porter and de­clared his al­le­giance to the ter­ror group, court doc­u­ments said.

He had shipped hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide for the con­struc­tion of home­made ex­plo­sives to the United States and had en­tered the coun­try with his fam­ily on May 21, 2016, where he planned to meet up with the un­der­cover agent to carry out the at­tacks. He was ar­rested that day.

The other two ac­cused are iden­ti­fied as Talha Ha­roon, a 19-yearold U.S. ci­ti­zen re­sid­ing in Pak­istan, and Rus­sell Salic, 37, from the Philip­pines.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.