Jury now deciding fate of Roswell terrorism suspect

A jury was deciding Tuesday whether to believe a Roswell man wanted to help with violent attacks or was simply researching his faith when he communicated with overseas terrorists.

A federal judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence for the case against Ehsanul Islam Sadequee to proceed to a jury.

“There is sufficient evidence to support a verdict on all four counts,” U.S. Judge William S. Duffey said Monday.

Sadequee, who is representing himself, was presenting his own closing argument Tuesday morning in his trial in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on charges he conspired to aid terrorists wage violent jihad.

Duffey denied Sadequee’s motion for acquittal on Monday afternoon after listening to a week of testimony.

Sadequee rested his case after calling only two witnesses. He told the judge he did not want to testify in his defense.

On Monday, jurors listened to the defendant’s older sister, Sharanika Sonali Sadequee, describe her brother as a quiet, inquisitive man who traveled to Bangladesh to marry his long-time love.

Federal prosecutors argue the wedding was a cover for Sadequee’s Bangladesh trip, where he planned to enroll in a terrorist camp.

“He’s being criminalized for dialoguing and exploring with other men,” the sister said after testifying. “It’s a complete violation of our constitutional First Amendment right. Lots of young folks are going to be exploring these issues.”

Prosecutors argue her brother did more than explore - he provided videos of Washington landmarks to a convicted terrorist and talked of attacking U.S. oil refineries, along with Dobbins Air Force Base.

Prosecutors say Sadequee supplied information to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a terrorist organization focused on the fight over Kashmir between Pakistan and India.

On Monday, Sadequee told a jury that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba wasn’t labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. until months after he started talking with them.

Sharanika Sadequee, who lives in Dallas, Ga., said her brother played paint ball, but was never violent.

The defendant, who describes himself as a devout Muslim, wore a religious skullcap Monday. His mother, covered in a sari and head scarf, silently whispered prayers throughout the proceedings.

However, Sharanika Sadequee, who started her testimony describing herself as one of her brother’s “favorite people,” took the stand wearing a jean jacket and open toe purple high heels. Her black hair pulled back in a bun, she smiled throughout her testimony and used common American slang when she spoke.

Sharanika Sadequee’s testimony Monday came after the judge scolded the defendant for trying to submit new evidence at the last minute, including his wedding photographs.

“Let’s stop going through this charade. Mr. Sadequee, I told you when this case started, this was very difficult,” the judge said. “The only people inconvenienced here are the jurors.”

The sister said she has little hope for a future for her brother, who is facing 60 years in prison if convicted.

“I think the government has an upper hand,” she said after testifying.

The sister complained that Sadequee has been prohibited from talking about certain things in the trial, including details of his arrest in Bangladesh - which she calls a kidnapping - and being attacked by another inmate in prison.