Dayton man accused of trying to join ISIS waives jury trial

A Dayton man accused of trying to fly to Syria to join ISIS has waived his right to a jury trial.

Laith Alebbini, 28, is scheduled to have his trial heard later this year by U.S. District Judge Walter Rice in Dayton’s District Court. A Sept. 17 trial date recently was continued.

Alebbini was indicted for conspiracy and knowingly attempting “to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization in the form of personnel to work under ISIS’s direction and control.” Alebbini has pleaded not guilty.

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Alebbini’s attorney has filed several motions asking federal prosecutors to provide the identity of informants and any promises made to cooperating witnesses.

Federal public defender Thomas Anderson also has filed motions to compel prosecutors to disclose the witness and exhibit list at least 14 days before trial, testimony of government witnesses and any other “bad acts” Alebbini allegedly has committed that may be used in trial.

Neither Anderson nor First Assistant U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel immediately returned messages seeking comment.

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Federal prosecutors recently gave notice that they would use information collected under authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to court records.

“This is also the first time, despite a specific request by Mr. Alebbini, that the government has acknowledged the existence of a FISA warrant and its intent to use the information derived from this warrant at trial,” Anderson wrote in a motion. “The government should particularly disclose what evidence derived from the FISA warrant it intends to introduce in its case-in-chief at trial. This would allow a decision as to whether a suppression motion is warranted.”

Prosecutors allege that in April 2017 Alebbini tried to board a flight to Jordan from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

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“The flight was purchased with funds provided by the FBI and given to Laith by a Confidential Informant working for the FBI,” Anderson wrote in a motion earlier this year. “To date there has been no indication that Laith had any communication, whatsoever, with anyone from ISIS or purporting to be in any way affiliated with ISIS.

“The government’s theory is not that Laith was plotting any type of terrorist attack either in America or abroad, but rather that he intended to ultimately make his way to join ISIS in Syria for the sole purpose of killing (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad.”

Prosecutors previously invoked the Classified Information Procedures Act in the Alebbini case to “protect classified information from disclosure.”

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