Huntsville terrorism suspect appeals $250,000 bond, claiming it’s unconstitutional

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The attorney for accused Huntsville terrorism suspect Aziz Sayyed is asking a court to reconsider his $250,000 cash-only bond, arguing that it’s “so excessive” that it violates Sayyed’s constitutional right to bail.

Sayyed is charged with soliciting/providing support for an act of terrorism, a Class C felony, which has a normal bond range between $2,500 and $30,000.

Sayyed’s bond was set following a July 18 preliminary hearing where a Huntsville Police Department officer testified Sayyed had admitting buying the materials necessary to make a bomb and that he discussed detonating the explosive device at a law enforcement facility.

The officer testified Sayyed had materials to make a TATP bomb, which is the same style of explosive device as the one detonated at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester, England. That explosion killed 22 people.

Sayyed, 22, had his bond set at $250,000 by Madison County District Judge Schuyler Richardson on July 20. In his bond-setting order, Richardson cited the hearing testimony.

“Based upon that testimony, the court finds that the defendant would pose a grave risk of harm to the public if released,” the judge wrote.

His attorney Bruce Gardner has argued that the bail is excessive and that the evidence against Sayyed only shows him buying materials, not building a bomb.

Gardner has filed a habeas corpus petition seeking Sayyed’s release. Wednesday’s filing is before Madison County Circuit Judge Karen Hall.

Gardner is asking the court to set bond in line with the state’s regular bond schedule.

Sayyed, a U.S. citizen who was attending Calhoun Community College, was arrested in Huntsville in June on the terrorism charge but officials declined to provide many details. The most detailed look at the case against him came during the preliminary hearing on July 18.

STAC agent Brad Snipes, a Huntsville Police Department investigator,  testified that the investigation into Sayyed began in January by the FBI. His testimony indicated the Huntsville Police Department was the other major agency involved in the investigation, but they apparently were not brought in until shortly before Sayyed's June 15 arrest.

Snipes testified investigators obtained a number of recordings of Sayyed talking about watching ISIS beheading videos and making claims about pledging allegiance to ISIS. In the testimony, it was claimed that Sayyed used a private browser to learn how to make an explosive device similar to the Manchester bomb. Snipes testified all of the recordings were obtained by informants and were in Arabic. The FBI translated the recordings into English, he said.

Snipes also testified that at some point, Sayyed was being monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During that period, he was observed buying materials at two different Walmarts in early June that could be used to help make the bomb, including acetone and hydrogen peroxide. Snipes testified the use of different stores suggested Sayyed was using "tradecraft" to avoid detection.

Snipes' testimony also included an alleged claim by Sayyed that it would only take about six hours to build the bomb and that he was interested in placing it during the week of June 12.

Prosecutors have also argued if Sayyed is released on bond he would flee.

Snipes said Iranian money and Sayyed's passport were among the items found in his apartment, along with more than a dozen knives and a piece of plywood that had throwing knives and other knives stuck into it.

The case has been forwarded to a Madison County grand jury.