Federal prosecutors will admit they fumbled the nation’s first post-9/11
terrorism trial and ask a judge today to throw out charges that grew out of
a raid in southwest Detroit.

Prosecutors also plan to consent to a defense request to retry three men on
document fraud charges. Prosecutors informed defense lawyers of their
decision during a closed-door meeting Tuesday with U.S. District Judge
Gerald Rosen.

The decision is the biggest development in the case since the verdict in
June 2003 and came on the same day President George W. Bush reasserted his
contention that the United States can win its war on terrorism.

“I think they saw the writing on the wall,” one person familiar with the
case said Tuesday, referring to the probability that Rosen was going to
dismiss the case because prosecutors withheld documents that might have
caused the jury to acquit the men. Once the documents came out, prosecutors
would have had a lot of explaining to do, said the source, who spoke on
condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

Defense lawyers said Tuesday they couldn’t comment on developments in the
case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wouldn’t discuss it, either.

“Nothing has been filed and we cannot comment,” said Gina Balaya, a
spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Moroccan immigrants Karim Koubriti, 26, and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 38, were
convicted in June 2003 of conspiring to provide material support to
terrorism. Ahmed Hannan, 36, also of Morocco, was convicted of document
fraud. A fourth man was acquitted after the nine-week trial. Koubriti and
Elmardoudi are in custody pending sentencing. Hannan is free on bond.

Koubriti and Elmardoudi, who also were convicted of document fraud, were
facing up to 10 and 15 years in prison, respectively. Hannan was facing up
to 5 years.

Prosecutors were expected to file the request seeking the dismissal of
charges against Koubriti and Elmardoudi by this morning. Rosen is expected
to approve the request.

Rosen, who presided over the trial, criticized prosecutors last December
for withholding documents that could have been used to challenge the
credibility of the government’s star witness..


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