Two Muslims accused of supporting terrorism after an FBI sting operation were released on home detention on Tuesday after a judge chided the government for building a case that lacked evidence.
U.S. Magistrate David Homer said there was not enough evidence to hold Yassin Aref, 34, and Mohammed Hossain, 49, who were held without bail on Aug. 10 after pleading not guilty to money laundering, supporting a terrorist organization and conspiracy to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat.
In the wake of the arrest of the men, other Muslims in Albany — home to about 7,000 followers of Islam — have called the case a tragic misunderstanding and many have shied away from attending mosques for fear of being labeled terrorists.
Aref and Hossain were arrested in Albany after authorities said they agreed to help an FBI informant launder $50,000 from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile as part of a fake plan to assassinate Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Homer released them on $250,000 bond each on Tuesday and ordered them to remain in home detention with electronic surveillance bracelets, but he was caustic in his remarks on the case the government built.
“As compared to Aug. 10, there’s no longer any presumption that Mr. Hossain would cause a risk of flight or danger to the community,” Homer said.
“There still is no evidence of Mr. Hossain’s involvement with any terrorist organization.
The judge added: “The strength of the case against Mr. Aref appears less strong than it did appear on Aug. 10.
“There is no evidence … to support claims that Mr Aref has any contact with any terrorist organization…