Terrorist released thanks to 'First Step Act'

 June 17, 2023

A convicted terrorist was just released early from prison with help from the First Step Act. 

The convicted terrorist, according to Fox News, is Mohamad Youssef Hammoud.

Hammoud is a Lebanese national who immigrated illegally to the United States in 1992. He then used three sham marriages to U.S. citizens to remain in the country.

This, though, is not why he was put behind bars - at least it was not the only reason why he was put behind bars.

Here's what Hammoud did:

Hammoud was arrested in July 2000 after several government agencies - including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) - conducted an investigation into him.

This investigation found that, from 1995 to 2000, Hammoud, among other things, provided material support to Hezbollah, the terrorist organization. It was specifically found that Hammoud led an Islamic terrorist cell in North Carolina that raised millions of dollars for Hezbollah by selling contraband cigarettes.

In June 2002, Hammoud was convicted, by a jury, of providing material support to Hezbollah as well as of conspiracy, money laundering, racketeering, immigration fraud, and other crimes. Hammoud was subsequently sentenced to 155 years behind bars.

Hammoud, however, filed an appeal, and, as a result of the appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated his 155-year prison sentence. This was not the end of the matter, though, as the court also upheld his conviction.

In 2011, Hammoud was resentenced to 30 years of imprisonment.

He's been released

Now, Hammoud has been released after having served only 23 years of his 30-year prison sentence. And, his release was thanks to the First Step Act.

The First Step Act was passed by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and signed into law by the president during the administration of President Donald Trump. The act has a provision that allows for "compassionate release."

This is the part of the statute that Hammoud invoked to obtain his early release. The request was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The court based its decision on the "disparity between his sentence and other sentences for comparable conduct," and "the disproportionally in his sentence caused by the application of the 'terrorism enhancement.'"

Hammoud has already been released, and he told the media in Beirut that he has no regrets.

"I would be proud to send money to Hezbollah, and I could say I sent money to Hezbollah, but, in 1999… I did not send a penny to Lebanon," Hammoud told one reporter.

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