NC terrorism convict faces new beheading plot case

AP News
Posted: Feb 22, 2012 12:30 PM
NC terrorism convict faces new beheading plot case

A North Carolina man recently convicted in a homegrown terrorism plot faces new charges that he attempted to hire a hit man to behead three witnesses who testified against him.

Hysen Sherifi of Raleigh was indicted on nine counts Tuesday, accused of plotting with his younger brother and a female friend to pay a hit man to carry out the killings. Court records say an FBI informant accepted a $5,000 payment and then provided faked photos appearing to show a beheaded corpse as confirmation of the hit.

Shkumbin Sherifi, 21, and Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 46, were arrested last month and charged as part of an elaborate FBI sting operation. They face additional charges in the new grand jury indictment. If convicted, they face lengthy maximum sentences that could effectively send them away for life.

Hysen Sherifi, 27, was sentenced in January to 45 years in prison for a plot to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and targets overseas.

That case rested on testimony and evidence collected by FBI informants paid to befriend Daniel Patrick Boyd, a North Carolina convert to Islam suspected of having ties to overseas terrorist groups. Boyd and two of his sons eventually pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges. Hysen Sherifi and two others were found guilty in October. A seventh man accused in the plot is set to go on trial in May.

Prosecutors allege that shortly after his trial ended in October, Hysen Sherifi approached another inmate inside the New Hanover County jail near Wilmington and asked if he knew of anyone willing to kill someone for money. Sherifi told the other inmate he wanted the three government informants who testified at his trial beheaded, along with a fourth man Sherifi said had cheated his family out of money, according to federal affidavits filed in the case.

The inmate Sherifi approached, a convicted drug dealer, then contacted the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Raleigh and agreed to become a confidential government informant and wear a recording device.

The FBI then devised a sting where the drug dealer agreed to refer Sherifi to a woman named Ms. D, who was said to represent a hit man known as Treetop.

According to court filings, Sherifi agreed to pay $5,000 for each of the killings and enlisted the help of his brother and Elshiekh, a special education teacher from Raleigh who had attended his trial.

The informant provided the younger Sherifi with two photos that appeared to show the corpse and severed head of the targeted witness. Shkumbin Sherifi then took those photos to the jail to confirm to his brother the killing he ordered had been carried out, according to the FBI.

The Sherifi family immigrated to the United States from Kosovo in 1999, fleeing a violent sectarian war in their homeland. Elshiekh, who worked as the director of exceptional children at a state-supported Montessori charter school in suburban Morrisville, is the U.S. born daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

Lawyers for Elshiekh have portrayed her as a good woman corrupted by an "evil man." A lawyer for Shkumbin Sherifi has declined to comment. They are now being held without bond at the New Hanover jail to await trial, while the older Sherifi has reportedly been transferred to a new facility.


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