California man gets over 15 years in prison for terror case

Amer Alhaggagi. (Supplied)
Updated 27 February 2019
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California man gets over 15 years in prison for terror case

  • Some 150 residents of Oakland’s tight-knit Yemeni community signed a letter given to Breyer on Monday urging leniency

SAN FRANCISCO: A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a 23-year-old Northern California man to more than 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to trying to support a terrorist group.
Amer Alhaggagi pleaded guilty in July to creating Twitter, Facebook and Gmail accounts for people he believed to be Daesh supporters he met in online chat rooms. He was also secretly recorded plotting for two years with undercover agents to blow up courthouses, landmarks and tourists attractions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Alhaggagi and his attorneys argued for a much lighter sentence and tried to portray the Berkeley High School graduate as an out-of-work, pot-smoking Internet “troll” seeking only to provoke and annoy with violent, anti-American claims. His attorney Mary McNamara called the oldest son of Yemeni-born parents a “class clown.” Federal probation officials recommended a four-year prison sentence.
Some 150 residents of Oakland’s tight-knit Yemeni community signed a letter given to Breyer on Monday urging leniency. The letter said the community was creating and educational program to teach children about online behavior and speech and how to properly respond to online strangers advocating terrorism.
Before he was sentenced, Alhaggagi apologized after a day-long hearing where recordings of his violent anti-American boasts were played and displays of text messages threatening to kill his Oakland neighbors.
“I find it hard to look and listen to all the horrible things I said to the undercover agent,” he said. “I made myself look like a crazy person.”
But US District Judge Charles Breyer rejected the portrayal of Alhaggagi as a naive blowhard who never intended to follow through with his threats.
“Words matter,” the judge said. “The most disturbing thing in Alhaggagi is the lack of empathy for others. That is chilling.”


UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

Updated 31 min 37 sec ago
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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. "The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum."

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal - you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers' rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour's demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country's political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)