SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The sentencing of an Oakland man who pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization was continued Monday until Jan. 8, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer began hearing evidence Monday morning in connection with the sentencing of Amer Alhaggagi, 23, but has now scheduled another hearing to continue the proceeding on Jan. 8, spokesman Abraham Simmons said.
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Alhaggagi pleaded guilty in July to the charge of attempting to provide material support for a terrorist organization. He admitted that he did so by opening email and Facebook accounts in November for people he believed to be supporters of the Islamic State.
Prosecutors in sentencing documents are seeking a 33-year sentence and say he made dangerous threats of bombings and poisonings in conversations with an informant and an undercover FBI agent.
Prosecutors said one of his plots included combining rat poison with illicit drugs. Another proposed planting bombs on the UC Berkeley campus.
Monday morning, KPIX 5 spoke with terrorism expert Dr. Marc S. Sageman about the threat level he believes the suspect poses.
The prosecution showed a thread from an online chat in which the suspect allegedly wrote, “I know how to make a bomb with shrapnel and I know how to make a detonator, but I cannot install it on a mobile phone.”
Sageman says the suspect was bullied as a teenager when he lived in Yemen because he was born in America.
Sageman testified that Alhaggagi is not terrorist, but more of a coward who trolls on online. Alhaggagi even laughed at the comment, the expression on his face visible in one of the courtroom sketches from Monday.
The hearing included testimony from two jailhouse informants cited in the investigation. In jail, the suspect has been nicknamed, “The Terrorist.”
Defense attorneys, who are asking for a four-year sentence, contend the alleged threats were empty boasting by an immature prankster who never meant to carry them out.
The Alhaggagi family released a statement Monday afternoon. It read, in part, “Amer is not a terrorist or a violent person, although he said many terrible things on the Internet and to the undercover agent. Amer did not commit a violent act – he opened a small number of social media accounts for ISIS sympathizers. He knows now that this was wrong and is sorry to have spoken as he did and to have caused so much trouble.”
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