Local News

Triangle terrorist gets life sentence in beheading plot

Posted May 10, 2013
Updated May 11, 2013

— A convicted Triangle terrorist was sentenced Friday to life in prison on charges that he plotted to kill government witnesses who testified against him in his 2011 trial.

Meanwhile, two others convicted in the case received sentences far less than the 10-year maximum they faced.

Authorities said Hysen Sherifi, 29, enlisted the help of his younger brother and a female friend to pay a hit man to carry out the killings against three witnesses and three law enforcement officers.

An FBI informant accepted $5,000 in payment and then provided faked photos appearing to show a beheaded corpse as confirmation of the hit, federal prosecutors argued.

A jury found him guilty last November of nine counts involving conspiring to commit a murder-for-hire.

One of the targeted witnesses called Sherifi "the devil among us walking on Earth" at the sentencing hearing.

Sherifi is already serving a 45-year sentence for plots to attack the Marine base at Quantico, Va., and targets overseas. He was among seven Triangle-area residents charged in 2009 with conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks, raising money and gathering weapons to support terrorist activities and engaging in military-style training.

Federal agents set up a sting after an inmate in the New Hanover County jail, where Sherifi was being held during his terrorism trial, said Sherifi asked him to hire a hit man.

At Sherifi's direction, his brother, Shkumbin Sherifi, and friend, Nevine Elshiekh, spent the first week of 2012 rounding up money to pay for the initial hit on a government witness, authorities said.

Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and Elshiekh, 48, pleaded guilty last November and testified against Hysen Sherifi.

Dr. Emily Keram, a forensic psychiatrist from San Francisco, testified Friday that Elshiekh, a former special education teacher, was on various prescription drugs for depression and anxiety when she became infatuated with Hysen Sherifi in 2011. The "perfect storm of medication" impaired her mental capacity, and she was never aware that she was part of an assassination plot, Keram said.

Dr. George Corvin, a forensic psychiatrist in Raleigh, didn't dispute Keram's findings but said it was clear to him, based on what Elshiekh told investigators when she was arrested last year, that Elshiekh knew what she was doing.

Elshiekh's attorneys requested a two-year sentence, but prosecutors said she should receive six to seven years in prison. U.S. District Judge Earl Britt sentenced her to 3½ years.

"Ironically and tragically, it's only the woman who wanted to help him and his own brother that he actually, physically succeeded in victimizing," said Charles Swift, attorney for Elshiekh.

Like Elshiekh, Shkumbin Sherifi sought a two-year sentence. Prosecutors agreed that he helped connect the dots for investigators in the case, but they asked for a five- to six-year sentence. Britt sentenced him to three years in prison.

"Mr. Sherifi is grateful for the judgment of the court and for the government, who came forward and told the judge he did the right thing," said Jim Payne, Shkumbin Sherifi's attorney.


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  • WralCensorsAreBias May 10, 2013

    He'll get beheaded in jail. Should work out good for him, since he's smiling and all.

  • westernwake1 May 10, 2013

    A life sentence is well deserved in this case.

  • mfarmer1 May 10, 2013

    somebody needs to smack that smile off his face.

  • lwe1967 May 10, 2013

    The woman should be dismissed from her position in the teachhing field. I would not like her anywhere near my family's minor children. She is not fit and her tenure should be taken aware from her and the union had better keep in the background on this one.

  • lwe1967 May 10, 2013

    There should have been no plea bargaining whatsoever. In cases like this, he should have received the death penalty. He as shown that he does not value this Country's laws, or the people who live in it. He also enlisted the help of two other people. If he is to spend life in prison, it should be without the possibility of parole and, to be held in solitary confinement all of that time. I'm sure that the ACLU would not agree with this. That is tough! The other two should have received the maximum sentences.

  • computer trainer May 10, 2013

    The teacher got 42 months??? Yeah, I want her in the classroom with MY children!!! No telling what she will teach them.

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount May 10, 2013

    I've heard there are many shanks in prison. Perhaps he'll find one?

  • jsok123 May 10, 2013

    Off with his head.

  • 44susan44 May 10, 2013

    Tax payers now get to pay to feed a man whose purpose in life is to kill them.

  • NoObamaCare May 10, 2013

    Wasn't the female a teacher assistant of some sort, that the local Muslim community was backing in her defense?