Recognizing extra precautions have to be taken to protect classified information that was used to charge three Palm Beach County men with providing material support to the Islamic State, a federal judge on Tuesday urged government lawyers to speed up the process so the men can be tried in April.
“While I want to safeguard the legitimate concerns of the government - and I underline the word legitimate - I am committed to assuring that the defendants get a fair and open trial,” U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley said while setting a somewhat accelerated schedule for attorneys to follow.
Gregory Hubbard, 52, and Dayne Antani Christian, 31, both of the West Palm Beach area, along with Darren Arness Jackson, 50, of Royal Palm Beach, were arrested by the FBI in July and charged with conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Both charges carry maximum 20-year prison terms and $250,000 fines.
Hubbard, a homeless artist who served in the U.S. Marines, was arrested at Miami International Airport when he attempted to board a plane bound for Germany. His ultimate destination was Syria where he planned to fight for the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Schneider, who specializes in terrorism cases.
Jackson, who drove to the airport, and Christian, a onetime Palm Beach Lakes High School track standout, are accused of helping Hubbard get weapons and firearms training, Schneider said. Christian, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to making false statements to buy 15 firearms, is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The plot was uncovered by a confidential informant, who recorded 220 hours of conversations he had with the three, Schneider said. Hubbard, who adopted the name Jibreel, was recorded making various incendiary claims, such as saying the only way to deal with an enemy was to “cut his head off,” according to court records.
The FBI is listening to the tapes so they can be declassified and turned over to defense attorneys, Schneider said. The process is time-consuming because it must be done in accordance with the federal Classified Information Procedures Act, Schneider said.
Hurley ordered the tapes be turned over to defense attorneys by Thanksgiving. Other information, including what Schneider described as video that would be pixelated to protect government informants, should be turned over by Dec. 15, he said. The roughly month-long trial was set for April - a month earlier than attorneys suggested.