Federal judge sets bond at $150,000 for Afghan native

October 08, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A federal immigration judge set yesterday a bond of $150,000 for an Afghan-born man who was arrested last month at a Northwest Baltimore apartment along with several illegal aliens of Middle Eastern and African descent.

During the arrest Sept. 10, police found several items - including computers with links to pilot-training Web sites - that triggered an FBI terrorist task-force investigation.

Yesterday, Justice Department Judge Lisa Dornell set the bond for Khoshal Wahid Nasery, 24, noting a concern that he poses a serious flight risk.

"He has every incentive to flee: the investigation, no family ties, no lawful employment," Dornell said.

Dornell noted there is no evidence that Nasery, who is being held at an Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility on the Eastern Shore, presents a threat to national security.

"At this point, there is only conjecture about the significance of materials and [Nasery's] links to them," Dornell said.

In addition to the computers with links to pilot-training and regional airport Web sites, the apartment where Nasery was arrested contained jihad, or holy war, documents and pictures of public places, such as Union Station in Washington and Times Square in New York.

Sameer Ashar, the lawyer representing Nasery, said the $150,000 bond was beyond his client's financial reach. Nasery has said that he earned his living in Baltimore working off the books for New York Fried Chicken.

Bond hearings for two men arrested with Nasery - Reza Zazai, also an Afghan native, and Unsir Hafeez, a Canadian citizen born in Pakistan - were postponed until Oct. 18 and Oct. 22, respectively, federal officials said.

The government had asked that Nasery be denied bail, stating that the investigation of the circle of men continues. Although Dornell rejected that request, the bail amount effectively meant that Nasery would remain in custody. Nasery, who said he has lived in Pakistan and Canada most of his life before coming here, has applied for voluntary return to Canada, where he has residency status.

His lawyer offered the court and government handwriting samples, asserting that they would not match the handwritten jihad material FBI agents found in the apartment - an offer government lawyers said they would consider.

Dornell, who has handled hearings for four of the men arrested at the same address in the 3600 block of Labyrinth Road during the past three weeks, is not scheduled to preside over the bond hearings for Zazai and Hafeez.

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