Days after a federal judge ordered the force-feeding of an Anaheim man accused of helping the terrorist group ISIS, the suspect was allowed to meet with his family and began eating on his own, his attorney told City News Service Wednesday.
Muhanad Elfatih M.A. Badawi, 24, was indicted in May along with another man on charges of bank fraud and providing material support to ISIS.
The indictment alleges that during April and May, Nader Salem Elhuzayel, 25, also of Anaheim, 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.
Both men face up to 15 years in prison if convicted as charged.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter on Monday ordered the force-feeding of Badawi because he had been refusing to eat and dropped three pounds since a hearing last week. He also ripped out an IV while hospitalized in Los Angeles over the weekend.
Carter, who is based in Santa Ana, presided over a status conference in the case Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles because it is close to the hospital where Badawi is being treated. The judge scheduled another hearing for Friday.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Carter allowed Badawi to meet with family members, a psychologist and his attorney in a secure area of the courthouse, where he began eating, defense attorney Kate Corrigan said.
“With his mother’s encouragement, he consumed quite a bit of food,” Corrigan told City News Service, adding that she has “immense gratitude” to Carter for allowing the meeting.
Corrigan said the judge “should be applauded” for his decision.
“It gives us hope that we are capable of having a fair trial in this case,” she said.
A June trial date is scheduled, and Carter has previously said he is committed to keeping it and does not want to sever the case from Badawi’s co- defendant.
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.
Badawi had been fasting irregularly, causing his weight to drop from about 140 pounds to about 105 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 last week 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.
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.
— Wire reports
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