WILMINGTON, N.C. — The FBI faked the death of a man in order to make a suspect accused of paying a hit man to behead three witnesses in a North Carolina terrorism case believe that the gruesome crime had been carried out.
Shkumbin Sherifi, who was arrested last weekend after FBI agents tracked him to a meeting in Wilmington with a government informant posing as a representative of a hit man, is accused of paying the informant $4,250 in cash toward the first killing.
During Sherifi's first appearance in federal court Friday, it was revealed that the FBI faked the death of one of the witnesses by providing Sherifi doctored photos that showed the person in a shallow grave covered in blood as well as a faked picture of what appeared to be the witness' severed head.
Officials say the plot to execute the witnesses was masterminded by Sherifi's imprisoned older brother Hysen Sherifi. He was sentenced to 45 years earlier this month for his role in what prosecutors described as a conspiracy to attack the Marine base at Quantico, Va., and targets abroad.
Shkumbin Sherifi showed the picture to his brother in a jailhouse visit on Jan. 22 as confirmation that the hit took place, according to testimony given during Friday's hearing.
He was then arrested as he was leaving the jail with the photo in his possession.
Also arrested was Nevine Aly Elshiekh, a 46-year-old school teacher from Raleigh. Her first appearance is scheduled for Feb. 3.
Dozens of members of the Islamic community in the Triangle rode in a caravan to Wilmington to show support for Sherifi during the court hearing.