Judge delays detention hearing in Islamic State case

Defense attorney Thomas Durkin said Mohammed Hamzah Khan’s parents, who were standing behind him, ask the public to be patient and not judge them based on their attire. “They are Americans,” he said.

By Beth Lawrence

A Chicago federal judge delayed ruling on whether a 19-year-old Bolingbrook man accused of attempting to join Islamic militants in Syria should be jailed pending a trial. But the effect of her decision was that Mohammed Hamzah Khan will remain in jail until at least Oct. 21.

Magistrate Judge Susan Cox put off her decision to allow more time to consider the prosecution’s request to keep parts of Khan’s case closed to the public because minors are involved. She did not disclose how minors were part of the case.

Cox said she did not receive enough information to make an informed decision by Thursday. She does not like making decisions “on the fly,” Cox added.

Most of the hearing was conducted in the judge’s chambers, out of hearing by reporters. After returning to the courtroom, the judge announced the delay.

Khan’s defense attorney, Thomas Durkin, said he was concerned that any move to close the courtroom during Khan’s trial would set a “dangerous precedent.” He also said his client was more concerned with his rights and the public’s right to view the trial than about going home Thursday.

After the hearing Durkin described Khan as a sincere and dedicated person “who takes his faith very, very seriously.” Durkin said he does not believe the group calling itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is a threat to the United States. “So I don’t see how he could be,” he said referring to his client who was picked up Saturday at O’Hare International Airport trying to board a plane to Turkey. A search of his home turned up a three-page letter laying out his intent to join Syrian militants.

Durkin said he did not believe his client had a fighting chance because the case involves terrorism. There is a “two-tiered justice system regarding terrorism,” Durkin said.

Khan is charged with attempting to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, a violation of the Patriot Act, which was signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

If convicted, Khan could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.