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United States v. Aldawsari

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 23, 2014

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
Khalid Ali-M. ALDAWSARI, Defendant-Appellant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1017

James Wesley Hendrix, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Dallas, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Stephen Cass Weiland, Esq., Robert Allen Hawkins, Esq., Patton Boggs, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before REAVLEY, DAVIS, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

W. EUGENE DAVIS, Circuit Judge:

In this case, Appellant challenges the validity of his criminal conviction and sentence of life imprisonment. In particular, Appellant argues that the district court improperly denied his motion to suppress evidence, delivered an invalid instruction to the jury, and erred when calculating Appellant's sentence. As set forth below, we disagree with each of these arguments and therefore affirm Appellant's conviction and sentence.

I.

Appellant is a national of Saudi Arabia who initially came to the United States to study chemical engineering. According to the evidence presented during Appellant's trial, Appellant spent several months during late 2010 and early 2011 acquiring nearly all of the chemicals necessary to manufacture a powerful explosive known as picric acid. The evidence also indicated that Appellant had become committed to " jihadist operations" and compiled a list of targets for bombing attacks. These targets included the Dallas residence of former President George Bush, the Cotton Bowl, and various Dallas festivals.

In 2011, the FBI conducted searches of Appellant's apartment and computer pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (" FISA" ). These searches were authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (" FISC" ) under 50 U.S.C. § 1805(a) and § 1824(a) based on an ex parte showing of probable cause to believe that Appellant was " an agent of a foreign power" under 50 U.S.C. § 1801. Appellant was arrested on February 23, 2011.

On March 9, 2011, Appellant was indicted with one charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction under 18 U.S.C. § 2332a(a)(2). Prior to trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress all items of evidence that had been collected during the FISA searches. The district court denied this motion, however, and the government relied extensively on this evidence during Appellant's trial.

Page 1018

Appellant was found guilty on June 27, 2012. The district court then imposed a sentence of life imprisonment, which was the maximum sentence permissible under the sentencing guideline range as calculated by the district court. Appellant now ...


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