Convicted Terrorist Sentenced to Life for Plotting to Kill Witness in Terrorism Material Support Trial
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 10, 2013|
RALEIGH—United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Senior United States District Judge W. Earl Britt sentenced Hysen Sherifi, 29, of Raleigh, North Carolina, to life imprisonment. Sherifi’s co-defendants, Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, were also sentenced to 36 months and 42 months’ imprisonment, respectively, both followed by three years’ supervised release.
Mr. Walker stated, “This case serves as an unfortunate reminder that we must remain ever vigilant in our efforts to detect violent extremists who seek to harm our people and property.”
“Today, a convicted terrorist who plotted from his prison cell to behead federal agents and witnesses received the justice he deserved. As this sentence demonstrates, those who attempt to thwart the judicial process through violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I thank all those who worked to ensure that Hysen Sherifi’s original terrorist plans against U.S. military personnel and others were derailed and that his subsequent murder-for-hire plot against those who testified against him was thwarted,” said John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“Hysen Sherifi, while in prison on a terrorism conviction, hatched a sinister murder-for-hire plot against the witnesses and FBI agents who helped convict him. The sentences handed down today send a clear message the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate attempts to thwart the judicial process,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Charlotte.
On November 8, 2012, Hysen Sherifi (Sherifi) was found guilty by a jury of all nine counts of the indictment filed against him. Sherifi was charged with plotting to kill six witnesses who had testified against him at his 2011 terrorism trial (United States v. Boyd, et al.). On November 1, 2012, Shkubmin Sherifi and Elshiekh, Sherifi’s co-conspirators, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958, and each testified during the trial of Sherifi.
After his October 2011 conviction and while awaiting his sentencing for the same, Sherifi plotted to kill three FBI agents and three government informants who testified at his terrorism trial. Sherifi sought to kill these individuals as revenge for his conviction; to prevent their testimony at co- conspirator Anes Subasic’s upcoming trial; and to get a new trial for himself. Sherifi recruited his brother, Shkubmin Sherifi, and Nevine Elshiekh, a local school teacher to assist him in his plot. The Sherifis and Elshiekh then raised money to pay for the murders.
In January 2012, Elshiekh met with a government informant whom she believed to be the middleman for a hitman in order to discuss the murder plot and possible targets. Elshiekh then relayed that information to Sherifi during a jail visit. Sherifi specified that he wanted each target to be beheaded and photographed after the beheading. At a second meeting with the “middleman,” Elshiekh confirmed the identity of a government witness to be murdered and made a down payment. The conspirators then worked together to collect the remaining funds needed to pay for the first murder. After collecting the funds, the conspirators arranged another series of meetings with the “middleman” to pay for the murder and get photographic confirmation of the first murder. On January 22, 2012, the conspirators were all arrested shortly after Shkubmin Sherifi accepted pictures from the supposed “middleman,” purporting to show a beheaded government witness.
On February 21, 2012, a nine-count indictment was filed charging Sherifi, Shkubmin Sherifi, and Elshiekh with conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1958(a) and 2; conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to kill another person, with intent to retaliate against any person for testimony given by a witness in an official proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1513(f), 1513(a)(1)(A), and 2; and conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to kill another person, with intent to prevent the attendance or testimony of any person in an official proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(k), 1512(a)(1)(A), and 2.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Resident Agencies in Raleigh and Wilmington, North Carolina, with the assistance of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys J. Frank Bradsher and Brian S. Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Matthew F. Blue of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.