Convicted Terrorist Sentenced to Life in Prison for Plotting to Kill Witnesses in His Terrorism Trial
At a hearing today in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Hysen Sherifi, 29, of Raleigh, N.C., was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt to life in prison. Sherifi’s co-defendants, Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, were also sentenced to 36 months and 42 months in prison, respectively, both followed by three years of supervised release.
The sentences were announced by John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Thomas G. Walter, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina; and John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Charlotte Division.
“Today, a convicted terrorist who plotted from his prison cell to behead federal agents and witnesses received the justice he deserved. As this sentence demonstrates, those who attempt to thwart the judicial process through violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I thank all those who worked to ensure that Hysen Sherifi’s original terrorist plans against U.S. military personnel and others were derailed, and that his subsequent murder-for-hire plot against those who testified against him was thwarted,” said John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
U.S. Attorney Walker stated, “This case serves as an unfortunate reminder that we must remain ever vigilant in our efforts to detect violent extremists who seek to harm our people and property.”
“Hysen Sherifi, while in prison on a terrorism conviction, hatched a sinister murder for hire plot against the witnesses and FBI agents who helped convict him. The sentences handed down today send a clear message the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate attempts to thwart the judicial process,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Strong.
On Nov. 8, 2012, Hysen Sherifi (Sherifi) was found guilty by a jury of all nine counts of the indictment filed against him. Sherifi was charged with plotting to kill six witnesses who had testified against him at his 2011 terrorism trial (United States v. Boyd, et al.). On Nov. 1, 2012, his co-conspirators, Shkumbin Sherifi and Nevine Aly Elshiekh, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and each testified during the murder-for-hire trial of Sherifi.
After his October 2011 terrorism conviction, and while awaiting his sentencing for the same, Sherifi plotted to kill three FBI agents and three government informants who testified at his terrorism trial. Sherifi sought to kill these individuals as revenge for his conviction; to prevent their testimony at co-conspirator Anes Subasic’s upcoming trial; and to get a new trial for himself. Sherifi recruited his brother, Shkumbin Sherifi, and Elshiekh, a local school teacher to assist him in his plot. The Sherifis and Elshiekh then raised money to pay for the murders.
In January 2012, Elshiekh met with a government informant whom she believed to be the “middleman” for a hit man in order to discuss the murder plot and possible targets. Elshiekh then relayed that information to Sherifi during a jail visit. Sherifi specified that he wanted each target to be beheaded and photographed after the beheading. At a second meeting with the middleman, Elshiekh confirmed the identity of a government witness to be murdered and made a down payment. The conspirators then worked together to collect the remaining funds needed to pay for the first murder. After collecting the funds, the conspirators arranged another series of meetings with the middleman to pay for the murder and get photographic confirmation of the first murder. On Jan. 22, 2012, the conspirators were all arrested shortly after Shkumbin Sherifi accepted pictures from the supposed middleman, purporting to show a beheaded government witness.
On Feb. 21, 2012, a nine-count indictment was filed charging Sherifi, Shkumbin Sherifi, and Elshiekh with conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to kill another person with intent to retaliate against any person for testimony given by a witness in an official proceeding; and conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempt to kill another person with intent to prevent the attendance or testimony of any person in an official proceeding.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the FBI Resident Agencies in Raleigh and Wilmington, N.C., with the assistance of the New Hanover County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Frank Bradsher and Brian S. Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and Trial Attorney Matthew F. Blue of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.