Hearing delayed for Chicago-area teen charged in plan to join ISIS

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2014 5:12 PM

By Fiona Ortiz

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday postponed a detention hearing for a Chicago-area teen who allegedly tried to fly to the Middle East to join the militant group Islamic State while she decides whether or not to close part of the proceedings to the media.

The prosecution had petitioned for portions of the hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to be closed to the media.

Defense attorneys for Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, said media should have access.

Federal prosecutors have charged Khan with attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization. He was arrested on Saturday at O'Hare International Airport, allegedly trying to get to Syria or Iraq to join the ISIS militant group that is a U.S. military target.

After a private discussion with the defense and the prosecution, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox delayed the detention hearing until Oct. 21 to give lawyers for both sides, as well as the media, time to weigh in on the issue of access.

Cox said in the courtroom on Thursday that the prosecution's motion to was due to the fact that there are minors somehow involved in the case. But she did not give further details.

Khan's defense attorney Thomas Durkin said the prosecution was trying to keep the public from finding out about government intelligence activities.

Durkin told reporters outside the courthouse that he was delighted with Cox's decision to delay the hearing.

"I think the constitution won," he said.

Durkin said his client is American-born and his parents are from India. He said Khan, who graduated from high school and had completed one year of college, is a fervent believer in Islam.

"He's someone who takes his faith very, very seriously," the lawyer said.

Khan was arrested at the O'Hare International Airport. Federal prosecutors say he had tickets to fly to Turkey where he planned to meet with a contact who would take him to ISIS. While he was detained at the airport, agents searched his and his family's home in Bolingbrook and found a letter and notebooks in which Khan wrote about his plans.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)