homegrown terrorist definition widens

NY court considers if NYC street gang member is ‘homegrown terrorist’ under post-Sept. 11 law


NY court considers if NYC street gang member is ‘homegrown terrorist’ under post-Sept. 11 law

By Associated Press, Published: October 8

ALBANY, N.Y. — In 2002, a New York City street gang crashed a christening party, shouted out their superiority, confronted a rival and started a fight that left a 10-year-old girl dead and someone else paralyzed.

On Tuesday, New York’s top court will consider whether one of the gang members is a homegrown terrorist.

Edgar Morales, a member of the Mexican-American gang the St. James Boys, sought to intimidate an entire population and deserves more prison time than others convicted of the same crimes, Bronx prosecutors say. They got him convicted for the shooting death in 2007 under the state’s anti-terrorism statute, the first case of its kind in New York.

“Violent crime committed by a street gang constitutes a crime of terrorism ... when it is motivated solely by the intent to establish a gang’s ‘street credentials’ as the toughest Mexican gang in the Bronx,” because those crimes are intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, prosecutors argue in a court filing.

They applied a statute that New York lawmakers passed just six days after hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Now 30, Morales was accused of firing five shots during the August 2002 fracas outside the christening party at a church, killing bystander Melany Mendez. Morales told police he was there and briefly handled a gun but said he wasn’t involved in either the fight or the shooting.