Attorneys share discovery in Elkhart woman’s terror case

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Prosecutors have said they are still determining which confidential items they can share with attorneys defending an Indiana woman who is accused of providing tactical gear and funds to two Islamic State fighters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Abizer Zanzi said at a status hearing in federal court Thursday that the government has shared discovery that is not confidential with the attorneys for Samantha Elhassani, the Post-Tribune reported.

Items that could be subject to the Classified Information Procedures Act will only be shared if the information is “relevant and helpful” to the defense, Zanzi said, citing “national security interests.”

Elhassani, 32, pleaded not guilty last year to conspiracy to provide material support to IS, and aiding and abetting individuals in providing material support to the group. The woman, of Elkhart, is accused of aiding the two IS fighters between the fall of 2014 and the summer of 2015, despite knowing the group is an active terrorist organization.

Elhassani’s attorneys, Thomas Durkin and Joshua Herman, have security clearances, but that doesn’t mean they automatically have access to confidential information, Zanzi said. Judge Philip Simon will determine which confidential information Elhassani’s attorneys can see.

Attorneys on both sides said they’re on track for the January 2020 trial.

Elhassani told reporters for the BBC and PBS that during a 2015 vacation in Turkey, her Moroccan husband, Moussa Elhassani, tricked her into traveling with their children to Syria, where he became an IS militant.

Moussa Elhassani has since died, according to attorneys.  Samantha Elhassani told CNN her husband was killed in a drone strike last year.

She and her children ended up in a Kurdish detention camp and were transferred to U.S. custody in July 2018 by U.S-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The defense has argued Elhassani was a victim of “domestic violence and patriarchal abuse” and was forced to follow the “crazy man” she married. Prosecutors say Elhassani knowingly followed her husband to Syria and put her children in danger.

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