MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A Mobile man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of providing support to international terrorists.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Nelson set a tentative trial date of March 3 for Randy Lamar Rasheed Wilson, 25. But everyone involved in the case, including the judge, said the trial will likely be delayed because the charges are so unusual and the evidence so vast and complicated.
"This is obviously the first one of these cases I've handled and maybe the first we've had here in this district," Nelson said.
Federal agents arrested Wilson earlier this month as he was boarding a plane with his young family headed to Morocco. Prosecutors allege Wilson planned to travel from Morocco to another African country and support fellow Muslims in waging terrorist activity. The same day, agents arrested Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, a 25-year-old Egyptian native and former business partner of Wilson's.
The government alleges the two men plotted with others to travel overseas and join international terrorists. The government also alleges Wilson was influenced by his friendship with fellow Mobile-area native Omar Hammami. Hammami grew up in Alabama and was raised Muslim. He later moved to Somalia and became a leading figure in the group al-Shabab. Hammami is on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists.
Wilson's attorney, Domingo Soto, said Wednesday that Wilson has been unfairly targeted because of his past acquaintance with Hammami and that Wilson only wanted to travel to Morocco to study his religion with his family in an Islamic country.
Soto said he will fight the government's charges and efforts to keep much of the evidence against Wilson under a seal through a protective order claiming it is a national security issue.
"We are going to fight this all the way," he said. "We are going to fight the detention, the indictment and the protective order."
Soto said much of the evidence against Wilson came from statements he made to an FBI informant and to an undercover agent. Wilson's statements were theoretical and there is no proof that he planned any violent actions, Soto said.
"There is a question here about whether you can infringe on free speech to the point of an indictment based on some-sort of amorphous intent," Soto said. "Can you be put in jail for saying something even though you have no intent to do it?"
Soto said that while Wilson and Hammami knew each other as part of the relatively small Muslim community in the Mobile area, there is no evidence they plotted together.