RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) – A federal judge on Wednesday ordered psychiatric treatment for a North Carolina man so that he might be competent to stand trial on a charge that he sought to join an al-Qaeda-linked militant group in Syria.
US District Judge Terrence Boyle ordered Basit Sheikh hospitalized for up to four months.
The 15-minute court hearing featured Sheikh arguing in a stream-of-consciousness lecture that he was mentally sound and that the US should pay reparations for war deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, suggesting “100 camels worth of monetary compensation.”
Boyle told Sheikh that he faced commitment where the regimen could include involuntary administration of psychiatric drugs to see if the defendant could be made to understand the seriousness of the charges and to help his lawyer defend against them.
“No thanks. No thanks, I’m perfectly all right,” Sheikh replied. “My belongings should be returned to me and I should be allowed to leave this country.” The Pakistan-born Sheikh is charged with providing material support to a terrorist group. He was arrested in late 2013, an early target in an FBI effort to arrest Americans expressing interest before they could join terrorist groups fighting in the Syrian conflict.
Activists say more than 200,000 people have died in the country’s four-year civil war that spawned the group Islamic State.
The fear in Washington and other Western capitals is that young fighters could become radicalised by al-Qaeda-linked groups and return home as battle-hardened, weapons-savvy terrorists. The US believes there are about a dozen Americans fighting alongside radical groups in Syria, FBI Director James Comey said last fall.