A US judge has agreed to delay the terror trial of a Texas University student until after the US presidential election after it was claimed that ‘virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric’ could hurt his chances of an impartial jury.
The defendant, Asher Khan, 21, is accused of using the help of an Australian Islamic State recruiter to fly from Sydney to Turkey. He had a plan of crossing into Syria to join the terror group, and was scheduled to stand trial in Houston, Texas, on September 27.
US District Court Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in his order to re-schedule the trial to December 13 that “The court finds that the ends of justice served by this delay outweigh the interests of the public and the defendant to a speedier trial.”
Khan could be facing life in prison if convicted on charges including “conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State” and “conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country.”
It is reported that Khan was living with family in Sydney in 2013 and 2014. This is when he allegedly began communicating with Australian “ISIL foreign fighter facilitator” Mohamed Zuhbi.
Prosecutors alleged Khan flew from Sydney to Turkey in February 2014, but was “duped” by his family into returning home after he was told a false story about his mother being “critically ill.”
Khan’s lawyer, Thomas Berg, told the federal judge the “prospect of selecting an impartial jury is daunting enough in a terrorism case but this close upon the general election in November, with some candidates engaging in virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric and unmitigated bellicosity about ISIS/ISIL, jury selection seems problematic.”
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