After Amer Alhaggagi refused to participate in a terrorist plot that had been orchestrated by the FBI, he was charged with Material Support of Terrorism for creating social media accounts for use by ISIS members online. Alhaggagi did not dispute his guilt, and the issue before the Court was whether his offense was calculated to affect the conduct of the government through violence or threat of violence.
Verdict/Ruling: Alhaggagi was re-sentenced to 81 months, down from the original 188-month sentence.
In a landmark ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the lower court abused its discretion by considering conduct outside the offense of conviction and blanketly applying the terrorism enhancement without clear evidence that the social media accounts would be used to threaten a government.
MLFA worked closely with Alhaggagi’s court-appointed counsel to help bridge the cultural gaps and develop a winning strategy for trial and appeal. The result was a landmark decision that not only reduced Alhaggagi’s sentence but also altered the blanket use of the terrorism enhancement.