Iraqi convicted in plot to aid terrorists gets court hearing
January 17, 2016   By:    Mohanad Shareef Hammadi   Comments are off   //   600 Views

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An Iraqi refugee serving a life sentence for terror-related convictions will appear in court in Kentucky to argue that he was poorly represented by his attorney.

Mohanad Hammadi said in court records that his lawyer, James Earhart, pressured him into pleading guilty without advising him of an offer from prosecutors to cooperate with investigators.

Federal Magistrate Judge Brent Brennenstuhl ordered an evidentiary hearing to be held April 21 in Louisville, The Daily News in Bowling Green reports ( ).

The hearing will be “to further develop the record regarding Hammadi’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel,” Brennenstuhl said during a phone conference with attorneys.

Hammadi, 28, pleaded guilty in 2012 to several crimes arising from an investigation into allegations that he and fellow refugee Waad Alwan attempted to provide money and weapons to terrorists in Iraq. The two had arrived in the U.S. as refugees.

Alwan is serving a 40-year sentence, while Hammadi was sentenced in 2013 to life without parole.

Hammadi filed a motion in March to have his sentence vacated. He claims Earhart told him that no American jury would fairly and impartially consider the evidence against him in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“My attorney abandoned me and my case despite me having a very limited understanding of English, no experience with the criminal justice system and all alone with no family or friends to assist me,” Hammadi wrote in the affidavit.

Hammadi and Earhart are anticipated to testify at the hearing, according to Brennenstuhl’s order, and additional witnesses and evidence may be introduced to address Hammadi’s claims.

Hammadi’s new attorney, Patrick Renn said Hammadi, with proper advice, would not have accepted his attorney’s advice to plead guilty without a written plea agreement.

According to federal court records, Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist in what they believed were efforts to send hundreds of thousands of dollars and numerous weapons and explosives to insurgents in Iraq. But the operation turned out to be an undercover FBI investigation.

The FBI arrested Hammadi and Alwan in 2011.

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