DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish court on Thursday began extradition hearings against an Algerian man facing two terrorism charges in the United States connected to the so-called Jihad Jane conspiracy.
Ali Charaf Damache is wanted by the FBI for conspiracy in a failed international plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist whose depiction of the Prophet Mohamed with the body of dog inflamed public opinion in Muslim countries.
Damache, originally arrested in Ireland in March 2010, appeared at Dublin’s extradition court on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
Also known by his online username ‘Black Flag’, Damache faces a maximum of 30 years in jail if convicted in the United States.
He sat silently through the hearing, an Arabic interpreter at his side.
There was no indication Damache would seek bail, and he was remanded in custody to appear again before the extradition court on Tuesday.
Damache, who has lived in Ireland for a decade and been held in custody there for nearly three years, has been a long-time target for U.S. authorities eager to begin extradition proceedings.
At the time of his original Irish arrest, Damache was charged with a less serious and unrelated offence of sending a menacing message by telephone to an American Muslim activist, which delayed extradition proceedings.
That trial ended on Wednesday when Damache pleaded guilty to the offence in court. The judge sentenced him to time served and ordered his immediate release on the Irish charge, but he was immediately re-arrested by Irish police acting on behalf of the FBI.
Colleen LaRose, the Pennsylvania woman and Muslim convert who called herself Jihad Jane in online forums, has pleaded guilty in U.S. court to conspiring with Damache to try to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilks.
It remained unclear how long Damache’s extradition proceedings might take. “It does seem on the face of it to be a case of some complexity,” said Judge John Edwards.
Another American woman, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, who married Damache in Ireland in 2009, and Mohammed Khalid have also pleaded guilty to a range of terrorism charges.
All three await sentencing in May in federal court in Philadelphia.
Editing by Roger Atwood