Anyone who has followed Judge David O. Carter in the Weekly over the years knows the Santa Ana-based federal jurist does not suffer fools gladly, something Muhanad Elfatih M.A. Badawi learned Monday afternoon. That's when Carter ordered the forced feeding of the suspected ISIS supporter out of Anaheim.
While in federal custody in Los Angeles awaiting trial on charges he helped the terrorist group, Badawi has allegedly refused to eat or follow the directions of female psychologists and social workers, ripped an IV out of his arm and spit on those transporting him to court hearings.
Carter, who says it is his responsibility to see that Badawi helps his own defense, was told Nov. 20 that the 24-year-old was not eating and refusing to interact with female employees. At a hearing in Santa Ana last week, Carter gave Badawi a chance to eat on his own before force-feeding would be imposed, and City News Service reports out of the federal lockup indicated that the defendant had consumed his next meal that night.
But Badawi, who has been wasting away behind bars, showed up in court Monday having dropped from 113 pounds Thursday to 109.6 by Saturday, the news service's Paul Anderson reports.
“I'm deeply concerned, especially after a loss of nearly four pounds, especially in an already emaciated condition,” said Carter, who ordered the force feeding with the understanding that Badawi will be given an opportunity before each meal to eat on his own. The judge also decided to hold future hearings in Los Angeles to make transporting the defendant easier on his custodians.
Looking at her gaunt son in a hospital gown instead of a jail jumpsuit, Badawi's mother quietly wept during the hearing.
Anderson quotes Badawi's attorney, Kate Corrigan, saying she has seen a steady decline in her client's mental state since the downing of a Russian jetliner on Halloween that killed 224 people, for which ISIS reportedly has claimed responsibility, and the terrorist attacks in Paris. He is coming to believe he cannot get a fair trial because of growing fear of terrorists. she added.
Following an investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County, Badawi and his 25-year-old friend Nader Elhuzayel were indicted by a federal grand jury in June for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group, with Elhuzayel specifically accused of trying to provide material support and Badawi said to have aided and abetted that attempt.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the case was later amended to include allegations that Badawi used his federal financial aid to purchase a plane ticket to Turkey for Elhuzayel, and that Elhuzayel defrauded three Southern California banks to help fund their supposed illegal enterprise. Both also pleaded not guilty to the amended charges. Conviction on all counts the men face could send each to federal prison for decades and decades.
Their trial is scheduled to begin June 7, 2016. Carter says he is committed to keeping that date and is loathe to sever Badawi's case from Elhuzayel's.