NC Judge Releases Terrorism Beheading Plot Suspect
A special education teacher charged with conspiring to behead witnesses in a homegrown terrorism case will be released on house arrest with a $1 million bond pending her trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 46, faces multiple felony charges and could be sent to prison for life if convicted. But Senior U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt determined she was not a threat to the public and unlikely to flee to her father’s native Egypt or elsewhere overseas.
“I am doing this out of respect for your mother and father, and you must know if you violate the terms of your release, you place their future in jeopardy,” Britt told Elshiekh during a hearing held Thursday at the federal courthouse in Raleigh.
Elshiekh’s lawyers said it could be next week before her family could put up the $1 million in cash or property needed to post her bond and meet other conditions the judge set for her release.
Elshiekh was charged in January with attempting to hire a hit man to behead three witnesses from a federal terrorism trial. The FBI said Elshiekh was acting on behalf of a man convicted in January of plotting to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and targets overseas.
Britt ordered Elshiekh to cancel her passport, which her family says is missing, and submit to house arrest while wearing an electronic ankle bracelet that constantly transmits her location. She can leave her parents’ home only for medical appointments approved in advance by her parole officer or to appear in court, the judge said.
Prosecutors expressed concern that Elshiekh, a U.S. citizen, might attempt to flee overseas. She speaks fluent Arabic and has traveled outside the country at least 20 times, most recently on an August trip to visit a sister who lives in Alexandria, Egypt.
Defense attorneys countered that the family had deep roots in Raleigh, where they have lived since Elshiekh was a child. Her father, Aly Elshiekh, is a retired professor from N.C. State University who owns a local restaurant.
Britt asked the defendant’s elderly parents whether they would serve as her custodian during her house arrest.
“I will act as her shepherd, your honor. Anywhere she goes, one of us will be with her,” said Aly Elshiekh, 80.
Nevine Elshiekh and Shkumbin Sherifi, 21, were arrested in January after an elaborate FBI sting operation into the alleged plot to kill the witnesses from the trial of Sherifi’s older brother. Hysen Sherifi, 27, was sentenced in January to 45 years in prison.
Court records say an FBI informant accepted a $5,000 payment and then provided faked photos appearing to show a beheaded corpse as confirmation of the hit.