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4 jihad defendants granted bail

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4 'jihad' defendants granted bail
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Four men accused of being part of a "jihad network" were granted bail Wednesday. The move raises questions about allegations that they were Muslim warriors preparing to fight against U.S. allies overseas.

U.S. Magistrate T. Rawles Jones Jr. said none of the defendants pose a threat to the community. The men are accused of training for combat while on paintball outings in the Virginia countryside.

In the case of one defendant, Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 29, Jones referred to a solid work history, strong family ties and military service that he said appeared to defy the government's claims.

"The government's argument that he should be denied bond because of concerns for community safety simply does not hold water," Jones said.

He ordered the men released after they met bail conditions, including a requirement that they submit to electronic monitoring while awaiting trial.

The decision appeared to undermine the government's terror-related claims in a 42-count indictment unsealed last week. The court documents allege that the defendants were among 11 people who obtained weapons and trained to fight in Chechnya, Kashmir, the Philippines and elsewhere.

The release order, however, was tempered Wednesday in a separate decision by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who revoked bail for a fifth defendant, Masoud Ahmad Khan.

Khan, 31, had been granted bail earlier this week. The government appealed that decision, reasserting that Khan represents a safety and flight risk.

Federal prosecutors also signaled their intention Wednesday to appeal the magistrate's release order for three of the four other defendants. Those men, Hammad Abdur-Raheem; Randall Todd Royer, 30; and Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, 29, were all ordered released pending appeal.

Prosecutors indicated they did not plan to appeal the release order for Donald Thomas Surratt, 30.

Royer was visibly moved by the magistrate's decision. He buried his head in his hands and later wiped tears from his eyes.

"This was the only decision the judge could make," said King Lyon, the father of Hammad Abdur-Raheem. "This whole case is built on hearsay. There is not a fact in the whole case."

Lyon and others, however, were worried that victory could turn to defeat on appeal. "It certainly does give you pause," Royer's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, said in reference to the revocation of Khan's release.

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