Trial of alleged ISIS sympathizer delayed and moved to Key West

Harlem Suárez
Harlem Suárez

The trial of alleged Cuban ISIS sympathizer Harlem Suárez, originally scheduled to begin Monday, has been delayed until January, federal court records show.

An order signed by federal judge José Martínez provides the new trial start date as Jan. 11, thus giving Suárez’s defense lawyer — Richard Della Fera — the additional time he requested to review the copious evidence prosecutors have given him. Martinez also ordered that the trial be conducted in Key West, where Suárez was living when he was arrested. The previous order setting the trial for Monday did not say where the proceedings would be held.

Suárez, 23, has been in federal custody since his April 3 arrest on charges related to alleged support for the terrorist group ISIS, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria, and alleged efforts to build and plant a backpack bomb on a South Florida public beach.

A young Cuban who came to the United States with his family in 2004 when he was 12, Suárez was discovered by the FBI through his alleged pro-ISIS postings on his Facebook page.

Suárez has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorney, Della Fera, has told reporters his client is an impressionable young man who was influenced on ISIS by watching TV newscasts.

The case is the second involving a Cuban in South Florida expressing sympathy for ISIS. The first involved Miguel Morán Díaz, 45, who arrived from Cuba more than 20 years ago and was also discovered by the FBI through his Facebook postings.

Morán Diaz has since pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearms and on July 27 was sentenced to 10 years in the federal penitentiary.

Della Fera, Suárez’s attorney, said his client does not know Morán Díaz and that the fact the two are Cuban is purely coincidental.

Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @Alfonso Chardy