A federal judge in Santa Ana Monday ordered the force- feeding of an Anaheim man accused of helping the terrorist group ISIS because he has dropped three pounds since a hearing last week and ripped out an IV while hospitalized over the weekend.
U.S. marshals and Metropolitan Detention Center guards Monday also told U.S. District Judge David O. Carter that Muhanad Elfatih M.A. Badawi, 24, was spitting on guards who were transporting him to court, so his custodians put a “spitting hood” on him.
The gaunt defendant, clothed in a hospital gown instead of a jail jumpsuit, appeared fatigued in court, his head hanging over to his shoulder during the hearing. His mother wept silently at various times during the proceedings as officials discussed how his weight had dropped from 113 pounds Thursday to 109.6 by Saturday.
“I’m deeply concerned, especially after a loss of nearly four pounds, especially in an already emaciated condition,” Carter said.
Hydration was also a serious concern, prompting jailers to have him transported to White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, MDC Warden David Shinn said.
The judge said it appeared Badawi was “dissipating” and understood the medical necessity of force-feeding as recommended by jailers. But, he said, “I don’t want this to turn into the specter of punishment.”
Badawi will be given an opportunity at every force-feeding to voluntarily accept sustenance. If he refuses, as he did over the weekend when he ripped out an IV, then he will be force-fed, the judge ordered.
Dr. James Pelton, regional director of the Bureau of Prisons in Colorado, told Carter via a teleconference call how he would order force- feeding of prisoners if the medical necessity outweighed a convict’s right to protest. But in this case, Badawi is still awaiting trial and the same rules do not apply.
Carter said it was his responsibility to make the final call because the defendant has to be able to assist with his defense. A June trial date is scheduled, and Carter said he is committed to keeping it and does not want to sever the case from Badawi’s co-defendant.
Carter also decided to have further hearings in Los Angeles to make it easier on Badawi’s custodians, who have had to transport him from Los Angeles to Santa Ana.
Badawi’s attorney, Kate Corrigan, said 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.
She said she feels that her client is coming to believe he cannot get a fair trial because of growing fear of terrorists.
Badawi had been fasting irregularly, causing his weight to drop from about 140 pounds to about 110 in recent days. Carter urged Badawi last Thursday to have dinner or he would give the order to force-feed the defendant.
Badawi ate a peanut butter sandwich, two ounces of tuna, honey and drank some apple juice shortly after Carter’s order, Corrigan said.
Carter said during Thursday’s hearing that he was contacted Nov. 20 with news that Badawi was refusing to eat or be treated by female medical personnel while in custody in the Santa Ana jail.
He and Corrigan have been working to have Badawi transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, where he indicated he would eat.
A nurse at the Santa Ana jail told Carter at last week’s hearing that Badawi was reluctant to receive any treatment from her, but was more cooperative with a male nurse.
Lisa Hope, a psychologist who has been treating him, said her staff is almost entirely female, and when he first arrived in Santa Ana’s jail, he was “somewhat resistant.”
Badawi told the psychologists and social workers he would only speak with females when necessary, Hope said. The psychologist added that he cited his “religious beliefs” for his reluctance to deal with women counselors.
Badawi, who insisted during Thursday’s hearing that he was not on a hunger strike, also indicated he wanted to fast on Mondays and Thursdays for religious reasons.
Carter, who has spent a good deal of time in Afghanistan and Middle Eastern nations, where he trains officials on legal issues, scoffed at the suggestion that Badawi had a legitimate reason to fast on those days.
“You’ve got the wrong days and the wrong time,” Carter told the defendant. “This is not Friday and this is not Ramadan,” the Muslim holy month, marked by daily fasting from dawn to sunset.
Badawi was indicted along with Nader Salem Elhuzayel, 25, of Anaheim, on charges of bank fraud and providing material support to ISIS.
The indictment alleges that during April and May, Elhuzayel operated a scheme to rip off three banks by depositing stolen checks into his personal checking accounts and then withdrawing cash from automated teller machines.
Badawi is accused of buying a plane ticket for Elhuzayel to get to Turkey.
The men, who have been denied bail, were initially charged May 22, a day after FBI agents arrested the two — Elhuzayel at Los Angeles International Airport and Badawi at an apartment in Anaheim.