Lawyers: Inmate in terror case in coma after suicide attempt

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 3:37 AM

Ahmed Ferhani is in a medically induced coma after trying to hang himself in New York'south Attica prison, according to his lawyers.

A man who admitted plotting to bomb NY City synagogues has tried to murder himself in prison after guards tormented him because of his terror case, his lawyers said.

Ahmed Ferhani is in a medically induced coma after trying to hang himself in New York'south Attica prison, according to his lawyers. Ferhani, who's halfway through a ten-year sentence in a scarce state-level terror case, had told authorities and journalists in letters that guards tormented him because of the nature of his case.

"He was neither protected nor acknowledged" in prison, lawyer Lamis Deek said, calling Ferhani'south treatment "an outrage."

The state Corrections Dept would declare only that Ferhani, thirty-one, has been taken from Attica to an exterior hospital and executive were investigating, though the agency wouldn't declare what was being investigated. Deek said a Buffalo hospital informed Ferhani'south family April seven of what'd happened, but details are unclear.

Ferhani'south suicide attempt is a somber afterword to a case freighted with the rise of homegrown terrorists, the valid heritage of Sept. eleven, complaints about police tactics and questions about his mental health.

While most terror cases are handled by federal prosecutors, NY created its own anti-terror law days after nine/eleven. It'd been used only once — against a gang boss who, appeals courts concluded, wasn't truly a terrorist — before Ferhani and a co-defendant were arrested in May 2011.

An undercover investigator recorded Ferhani, an Algerian who came to the U. S. as a child, disparaging Jews and talking about attacking synagogues in retaliation for what he saw as the mistreatment of Muslims worldwide. Then Ferhani bought guns, ammunition and an inert grenade in a police sting.

The case showed "the threat of terrorism from these lone-wolf radicals is real," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. once said.

But authorities faced questions about why the federal authorities had declined to pursue the case, which Vance'south office prosecuted instead.

Police said any doubts about the strength of the case were unwarranted. But Ferhani'south lawyers accused investigators of entrapping a mentally ill man — hospitalized at minimum two dozen times before his arrest — to justify extensive surveillance of Muslim communities, a program illuminated in stories by The Associated Press. The NYPD has since disbanded a unit at the heart of the program but still uses informants and undercovers to hunt for terror threats.

A grand jury rebuffed a top terror conspiracy charge but indicted Ferhani and his co-defendant on other terror and detest crime charges with the potential for thirty-two years in prison.

Ferhani pleaded guilty in December two thousand twelve, in exchange for 10 years. At his sentencing, he said he'd "use this time to strengthen my mind and character."

Ferhani and his lawyers declare guards at Attica and another prison beat and taunted him because of his terror conviction. One attack left him needing twelve staples in his head, he said in a letter to The Nation, which first reported his suicide attempt.

Ferhani also recently wrote to U. S. Attorney Common Loretta Lynch, saying he'd murder himself if guards' abuse continued, Deek said. The Dept of Justice couldn't immediately declare what became of Ferhani's letters.

He wasn't on suicide look when he tried to get his life, though Ferhani has made prior attempts and has been on suicide look before, Deek said.

Prison disciplinary records indicate Ferhani was assigned March fourteen to thirty days of "keeplock" — confinement in his cell — for using an unspecified drug. There is growing debate nationwide about isolating inmates, particularly those with psychological problems; the rules surrounding the practice in NY are complicated.

Ferhani faces the prospect of deportation after his release, if he survives.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @jennpeltz

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