The 22-year-old Fremont web developer charged with helping a terrorist organization is innocent, his attorneys and family members say, and is the kind of person who spent his youth feeding the homeless in San Francisco and is an overall "man of service."
On Thursday, a federal criminal complaint was unsealed detailing the federal allegation against Adam Shafi, a 2011 graduate of Mission San Jose High School. Prosecutors charged him with one count of providing "material support" to terrorist organization, known as Jabaht al Nusra or JN. The United States has deemed the Syrian-based militia a foreign terrorist group.
The complaint states that Shafi’s father became concerned last summer on a family trip to Egypt when his son disappeared for a while. And he also feared his son had been "recruited" by jihadist elements.
Even in bail motion documents presented by the defense, Shafi’s father took "swift action to intervene" by asking a friend to fly from Egypt to Istanbul in June to stop "Adam from leaving the airport" before his July 3 arrest. It's unclear however, what Shafi was planning on doing - he told agents he simply was heading overseas to find work or help refugees.
Now, Shafi’s attorneys are arguing that their client had no part in helping a terrorist organization and detailed how he is a "gentle, generous and non-violent" man in about 70 pages of a bail motion. The bail hearing is set to be argued on Dec. 22 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
In the bail motion, New York-based Joshua Dratel and Berkeley-based Erik Levin are seeking the judge release Shafi from custody, where he has been since July, on $1 million bond.
They’re arguing that Shafi was on his way to Turkey because he wanted to work there, and simply wanted to be in a country where there were people with a "similar mindset and religion as himself," the motion states. If things didn’t work out in Turkey, his lawyers argued in their bail motion, then Shafi was thinking of heading to Egypt where he had family.
"He’s innocent," Levin reiterated Friday morning. And more than that, the government needs to find another way to root out terrorists, Levin added, other than prosecuting Muslims for wanting to help refugees.
Shafi’s attorneys presented letters from 20 family members and friends, including his parents, brothers, cousins and extended relatives. Shafi’s father is the chief operating officer of a tech-consulting company and his mother is a non-practicing physican, the bail motion states.
The letters highlight times when Shafi ran with his cousin to push her to be a better soccer player and took home bugs from a science project instead of killing them.
A cousin wrote of a time when Shafi used organic peanut butter to feed the homeless, even though it was more expensive, because "he wouldn’t give them anything that he would not want to eat himself," one cousin wrote.