District Court Finds That Defendant’s Participation in Conspiracy to Attack U.S. Helicopters in Colombia Establishes Sufficient “Nexus” With U.S. to Establish Constitutionality of Criminal Prosecution

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2014 - White Collar Criminal

Al Kassar v. United States, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, April 8, 2014

Defendant Al Kassar was convicted of conspiring to kill United States citizens and to illegally acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, providing material support to terrorist organizations, and money laundering. Among other things, the conspiracy involved an effort to acquire missiles in Europe that were intended to be used to destroy U.S. helicopters in Colombia. Al Kassar argued after his conviction that, because the conduct for which he was convicted occurred entirely outside the U.S., the alleged conspiracy did not have a “sufficient nexus” with the U.S. to support a prosecution consistent with the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A U.S. magistrate judge in New York rejected this argument. He first concluded that the statute under which Al Kassar was convicted had extraterritorial effect, extending to actions against U.S. property no matter where in the world located. He then concluded that the “sufficient nexus with the U.S.” requirement was to be judged with reference to the “intent” of the conspiracy, and that the conspiracy’s intent here to harm U.S. property satisfied the Due Process Clause.

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