Delay sought in terrorism trial of Ellicott City teen

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia are asking for a postponement until spring in the trial for an Ellicott City teen charged with aiding a terrorist, citing complexities in a case filled with classified information, voluminous evidence and multiple defendants.

Also, according to documents filed by the U.S. attorney's office for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, an alleged accomplice remains incarcerated in Ireland pending extradition. Prosecutors say he has neither retained an attorney nor had a single court appearance related to the case.

Those issues have made a Dec. 13 trial date impractical, according to the prosecutors, who described the delay as routine. U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker has not ruled on the motion, but court documents indicate that the defense attorney does not object.

Mohammad Massan Khalid, a Pakistani citizen who was secretly charged at the age of 17, was ordered detained until trial at his first public court appearance in October, after he turned 18.

Federal prosecutors charge Khalid, a Mount Hebron High School graduate who had been accepted to the Johns Hopkins University, with conspiring over the Internet to funnel money to a convicted terrorist from the Philadelphia suburbs who called herself "Jihad Jane."

Few new details have been released in the case. But in asking for the postponement, prosecutors wrote that the FBI investigation has spanned Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, "during which the government seized extensive electronic evidence" that includes more than 30 computer drives.

Prosecutors said federal agents executed search warrants on more than a dozen email and Internet accounts and "gathered documentary material from approximately 20 different entities. … It is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself."

Khalid grew up in Ellicott City and lived in an apartment building near U.S. 29 and U.S. 40 with his parents, brother and two sisters. His family has declined to be interviewed. Federal authorities secretly arrested the teen in July. He was to have studied science or mathematics at Hopkins; he withdrew from the university after his arrest.

Khalid was indicted along with Ali Charaf Damach, also known as "The Black Flag," who the newly filed court documents say is being held in Ireland.

The indictment charges that in 2008 or 2009, when Khalid was 15 years old, he worked with others to create a "violent jihad organization" in Europe and the United States. The indictment alleges that the suspects were plotting a holy war in Europe.

Prosecutors say Khalid conversed over the Internet with Colleen R. LaRose, who pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to provide terrorist support and kill in a foreign country. Prosecutors said LaRose plotted to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims by drawing the Prophet Muhammad's head on the body of a dog.

The two were linked, according to federal court papers, to a July 8, 2009, email forwarded from LaRose to Khalid asking for money. Prosecutors said Khalid posted a request for funds in an Internet chat room that day.

Khalid's attorney, Jeffrey M. Lindy, has disputed the government's allegations and said federal agents are reading too much into the emails. Lindy declined to comment Tuesday.