Harlem Suárez, a Cuba-born alleged sympathizer of the ISIS terror group, is competent to stand trial, federal court records show.
The trial is now scheduled to begin April 4 in Key West, a further delay from the prior date that a judge had set for early January, according to the records.
The development marked a new chapter in the convoluted saga involving Suárez, 23, whose family brought him from Cuba in 2004 when he was 12.
Suárez is the second Cuban to be charged in South Florida after expressing sympathy for ISIS, the group that controls territory in Iraq and Syria and has been linked to recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The first was Miguel Morán Díaz, 45, who arrived from Cuba more than 20 years ago. Last July 27, he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty.
A third South Florida Hispanic emerged in the last two weeks expressing “allegiance to Allah,” according to police.
Enrique Domínguez, 20, was arrested Jan. 22, accused of aggravated assault. The Kendall resident also had vowed to dress like the comic-book villain Joker and gun down co-workers. Domínguez allegedly told a co-worker that he had bought a shotgun to kill his boss and showed execution videos posted on the Internet by ISIS, according to the police report.
The joint motion by Suárez’s attorney, Richard Francis Della Fera and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton, said Suárez was competent to stand trial.
It said that based on a competency evaluation report by Dr. Alejandro Arias, both the government and the defense agreed that Suárez can be tried.
“The parties stipulate that defendant is competent at this time to proceed in this matter,” the joint motion said.
That conclusion contrasted with prior assessments by Della Fera.
In a motion filed in November, Della Fera said he had “reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him.”
Suárez has been in federal custody since his April 3 arrest on charges related to alleged support for ISIS, and alleged efforts to assemble and plant a backpack bomb on a South Florida public beach.
He was discovered by the FBI through he alleged pro-ISIS postings on his Facebook page.
Friends and family members have defended Suárez saying he is an impressionable young man who did not understand the implications of what he was doing.
Della Fera has said his client was easily impressed by news about ISIS on television and the Internet.
Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @AlfonsoChardy