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In ISIS Support Case Bradley Gets 11 Years Now Wife Arwa Muthana Up Next in SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast

SDNY COURTROOM, Feb 2 – The criminal case against a couple charged with trying to support ISIS and attack cadets at West Point has run into a dispute among Criminal Justice Act lawyers and a lengthy sealed proceeding on August 31. Further proceeding were held on September 1 and then on November 5 (Vlog 1 and 2, podcast here)

 Arwa Muthana married James Bradley and the Department of Justice says they tried to go join ISIS, on a ship from Newark, after speaking to an undercover law enforcement officer about today "taking out" cadets at West Point with a vehicle. DOJ's Complaint is online here.

On February 2, 2023 after he pled guilty, James Bradley was up for sentencing. The US wanted 15 years and Bradley's lawyers wanted time served: 23 months.

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer heard argument for an hour and half, then took a break to think. It was nearly 12:30 when he restarted, for an hour sentencing. He read letters from Bradley's family members, but also his Boy Scouts master and martial arts instructor.

  As in the Tekashia 6ix9ine case sentencing(s), Judge Engelmayer took time off for youth and first offender status. This time he added the two days for one COVID prison time calculator. He arrived at a sentencing of 11 years, which minus the 23 months is nine years, one month. Bradley's mother cried, and Judge Engelmayer apologized, saying it's the nature of the crime. Next up is Bradley's wife Muthana. Watch this site

Back on February 3, 2022 there was a conference in the case, which Inner City Press called in to and covered. A trial date was set - November 14 - and discovery, including some from the Hossain case Inner City Press also covered, was discussed.

 Then at the end Bradley said it was he and his wife's first anniversary and since they were not in court, could they stay on the line and talk. At first Judge Engelmayer said yes, then was reminded by his deputy that there were others, unidentified, on the line. So no, Judge Engelmayer began to say. Inner City Press hung up, to allow this virtual visit amid COVID if possible.

On August 3, 2022, another proceeding. Counsel for both defendants said they are negotiating about a possible plea, but for now it moves toward trial. There are Bruton / possible severance issues, including Arwa Muthana's 20 minute post arrest statement. An edited version will be put forward by the US Attorney's office, apparently in camera to Judge Engelmayer.

  The AUSA said that over 50% of the government's case will involved sealed or potentially sealed witnesses, from an undercover to a "human source," even a reference to the Delowar Hossain train, not sealed.

 Judge Engelmayer correctly said the press and public must be heard. We'll have more on this, like this, on another SDNY case.

On August 17, the US and defense jointly asked for two weeks delay, saying "the parties are in the midst of negotiations which may potentially result in a pretrial resolution of this case."

On September 9, 2022 James Bradley pled guilty before Judge Engelmayer: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer:Change of Plea Hearing as to James Bradley held on 9/9/2022. Defendant present (in custody) with attorneys, Richard Ma, Kestine Thiele & Anthony Cecutti. AUSA Andrew DeFilippis present. Court reporter present. Defendant sworn, changes plea of not guilty to GUILTY on Count 1 of the Indictment. See transcript. Plea entered by James Bradley (1) Guilty as to Count 1. Sentencing set for 2/2/2023 at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 1305, 40 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer."

But what about Arwa Muthana? Inner City Press remained ready for September 30. But on September 12, this: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer:Change of Plea Hearing as to Arwa Muthana held on 9/12/2022. Defendant present (in custody) with attorneys, Christine Delince & Karloff Commissiong. AUSA Kaylan Lasky present. Court reporter present. Defendant sworn, changes plea of not guilty to GUILTY on Count 1 of the Indictment. See transcript. Plea entered by Arwa Muthana (2) Guilty as to Count 1. Sentencing set for 2/3/2023 at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 1305, 40 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer."

Afterward, Inner City Press put her plea deal on its DocumentCloud, here.

In late January 2023, the US Attorney's Office recommended 180 months for each of them. Bradley's counsel responded he should get time served, due to deradicalization counseling. Watch this site.

On March 10, this: "SCHEDULING ORDER as to James Bradley, Arwa Muthana. For the reasons stated on the record at todays conference, the Court set the following schedule: The next conference in this case is scheduled for April 12, 2022 at 11:15 a.m. in Courtroom 1305 of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, NY. Time is excluded, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A), until November 14, 2022. Time excluded from 3/10/2022 until 4/12/2022. (Pretrial Conference set for 4/12/2022 at 11:15 AM in Courtroom 1305, 40 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer) (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 3/10/2022)." Is the time exclusion to April? Or November?

Previously, this: "ORDER as to Arwa Muthana: Good cause having been shown, it is hereby ordered that Esere Onaodowan, Esq. be appointed under the Criminal Justice Act to represent the above-named defendant until Christine Delince is again able to represent her, or until further order of the Court. Esere Onaodowan is authorized to bill at the prevailing CJA attorney rate and is hereby given permission to submit a voucher for her representation in this matter under the CJA Evoucher system. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 3/16/2022)." Watch this site.

Back on November 5, 2021 both were physically in court; Bradley's parent were the only people, along with Inner City Press, in the gallery. Bradley's lawyer Ma asked that a visit be allowed. Three minutes were agreed to, with no physical contact. Discovery issues have arisen, with Bradley unable to access the law library in the MDC in Brooklyn due to lock downs.

 Judge Paul A. Engelmayer noted that sometimes laptop discovery in the cell is not appropriate, alluded he said to a sex trafficking case.

 Bradley in the jury box looked surprised. The case, Inner City Press infers, was US v. Randall / Rivera, which it also covered. It will continue to report on this case. The current cast of players: Christine Delince, Karloff Commissiong for Arwa Muthana, Richard Ma and Anthony Cecutti for James Bradley, and alone on November 5 at DOJ's table, Jason Richman. 

On August 31, Inner City Press was there - for large portions, in the courthouse hallway.  And on October 8, it emerged that the defendants' lawyers may no be CIPA cleared. Later in October, Arwa Muthana complained of dirty water in the MDC, where co-resident Ghislaine Maxwell is fighting to get the names of jurors but no call-in line for trial.

#CourtCaseCast podcast here.

 The case was listed in the day's calendar of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. SDNY Judge Paul A. Engelmayer had summoned the lawyers, noting that "the Court expects the participants, given the sensitivity of the situation, to attend the conference in person."  

Given that criminal proceeding are presumptively public, and given the COVID / Delta pandemic, Inner City Press called in on the AT&T conference line assigned to Judge Engelmayer. But, strangely, it then asked that an additional pass-code be entered.

   Inner City Press went to the courtroom, at 1:50 pm for a proceeding listed as starting at 1:30 pm.

Inside, defendant Arwa Muthana with a veil covering her hair sat with US Marshals with two attorneys. Another CJA lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, sat in the gallery, along with the Assistant US Attorney assigned to the case.  

  On October 26 Muthana through counsel complaint that in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, to which prisoners from the emptied out MCC have been taken, "there have been brown bits of dirt and debris in the water and that she and the other women were told to 'drink water out of the sinks near the showers, or the sink near the slop sink.'" Judge Engelmayer signed an order for the MDC to provide Muthana with clean and bottled water by October 29" -- three days from now. Another request was redacted.

 Back on August 31 the lawyer in the front, Christine Delince, had complained to Judge Engelmayer that Ms. Shroff had spoke with her client. But it emerged that the client had reached out to Ms. Shroff, via CORRLINKS email. Ms. Shroff told Arwa Muthana that her lawyers were working hard for her. But she maintained that she has a right to speak to whoever reaches out to her.   

  The ancillary issued raised by Ms. Delince, whose letter is partial redacted, is that if Bradley suggested to Muthana that she contact CJA lawyer Shroff, a conflict of interest may be raised.

 Judge Engelmayer ordered most people, including the Press, out of the courtroom.

Inside were Muthana and her two lawyers. In the hallway outside were Shroff, two AUSAs, Inner City Press and another CJA lawyer waiting for a sentencing scheduled for 2 pm. That defendant was brought up on the elevator in shackled, then taken downstairs again.  

After nearly an hour, some but not all of those in the hall were allowed into the courtroom: the other lawyers in or around the case, including Shroff and two lawyers for co-defendant James Bradley, one of whom announced that "everyone but the government" could come in.

But Inner City Press was told it could not come in.  

Later still, the AUSA on the case was allowed in, but not the AUSA awaiting the now delayed 2 pm sentencing nor the defense lawyer for that case.  

When at last all of the Muthana and Bradley lawyers came out, no summary of what had occurred was provided. The delayed sentencing appeared to come together, but the court reported had been kept too long for the Muthana case.

 So the sentencing was pushed to September 2; Judge Engelmayer said that in the Muthana and Bradley matter, two defendants were being urgently produced on September 1 (presumably Muthana and Bradley - though it is reported that another man Bradley was communicating with was arrested at JFK Airport in July 2019).

 On September 1 in the morning, there was nothing in the case listed in the day's SDNY Calendar on PACER. But Inner City Press understand that whatever happened, happened in the morning. And later into the docket, this: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer:Status Conference as to James Bradley, Arwa Muthana held on 9/1/2021. Defendants present (in custody) with attorneys, Christine Delince, Karloff Commissiong, Richard Ma & Anthony Cecutti. AUSAs Jacob Gutwillig present. Sabrina Shroff present. Court reporter present. See transcript." See transcript when? It is not in the docket.

 Certainly attorney-client privilege is important. So too is the principle that criminal proceedings in Federal court are open to the press and public, to the maximum extent possible.

Once the AUSA was invited back in on August 31, obviously attorney-client issues were no longer at issue. So what was the basis of excluding the press and public, and still not providing any disclosure what happened? Even so that CJA lawyers know when it is appropriate to return a communication from the MDC, and when it is not, in the Court's view?

The case is US v. Muthana, et al., 21-cr-277 (Engelmayer) 

[There's more to the story: Arwa Muthana is the older sister of Hoda Muthana, who ran away from her family to join ISIS in 2014 but later sought to return to the US.  "Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were,' she told TV news from a refugee camp in 2019.  A federal judge ruled later in 2019 that Hoda was no longer a U.S. citizen and could not return to the country.  Hoda and Arwa are daughters of a Yemeni diplomat who became a naturalized citizen while on assignment in the United States. We'll have more on this, too - including the UN (corruption) angle.]


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