Most Islamic State-related defendants get maximum sentence

AP News
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Posted: Aug 12, 2016 6:23 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The majority of terrorism defendants in the United States who have been sentenced for supporting the Islamic State group received the maximum 15 years in prison, according to a summary filed Friday by federal prosecutors in Minnesota.

The summary, created at the request of the judge presiding over Minnesota's terrorism cases, comes as nine men await sentencing for plotting to join the Islamic State group.

Eight of the 13 defendants nationwide who have been sentenced for either providing, attempting to provide or conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State group have received the maximum sentence, the report said. Three of those eight got even longer penalties because they received consecutive sentences on multiple counts.

The report looked at sentencing data of Islamic State-related cases over the last two years and focused on material support convictions, not sentences for convictions such as lying during a terror investigation.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ordered prosecutors Friday to continue to update the list until the nine men, who prosecutors say were part of a group of friends who inspired and recruited each other to join the Islamic State organization, are sentenced. A date for that has not been set.

All nine were convicted of conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization, but three also face a possible life sentence after they were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder overseas.

Some of the cases cited in the report are similar to the Minnesota cases: In two separate cases, a Texas man got nearly seven years and a Georgia man got 15 years after they were arrested while trying to leave the U.S. A New Jersey man received 15 years after planning to join the Islamic State group himself and helping his brother successfully make the trip abroad.

Davis has been open-minded when it comes to sentencing terror defendants in Minnesota, and has pioneered a program that's designed to assess a defendant's prospects for de-radicalization and risk of re-offense. He has said he plans to use that information in sentencing.

Bob Sicoli, an attorney for one Minnesota man awaiting sentencing, said every case is different and he doesn't believe Friday's summary will have much bearing on the fate of his client, who cooperated with the government and testified at trial.

Of the cases summarized by in the report, a Colorado woman received the lightest sentence with four years. Prosecutors in that case argued for less than five years, citing her cooperation with the government.

The report also included a case that was not related to the Islamic State group in which a man was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder overseas. He and his co-defendant were each sentenced to 25 years in prison. Prosecutors said they included this case because it was the only one they found with that charge.

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