A man already convicted of taking part in a terror plot to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia has now been accused of plotting the beheading of key witnesses against him and his coconspirators.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed this week, Hysen Sherifi tried to arrange for the witnesses to be murdered for $5,000 apiece by a hitman named "Treetop," but the go-betweens in the murder-for-hire scheme were actually federal informants.
Hysen Sherifi was convicted of providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to murder U.S. military personnel and firearms charges in October 11 for his role in the foiled Quantico plot. Three other men in his North Carolina-based terror cell pled guilty to terrorism charges in 2011, and three more defendants were found guilty at trial. Another defendant still awaits trial, while an eighth suspect remains at large.
Sherifi, 27, was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison on January 13. In an FBI affidavit unsealed this week, however, authorities claim that prior to Sherifi's sentencing he tried to take out a murder contract on key witnesses against him.
According to the affidavit, Sherifi confided in an informant that he wanted to kill three witnesses who testified against him and a prisoner he believed had stolen from him.
"[The Informant] contacted the FBI to advise that Hysen Sherifi had confided in him and requested his/her assistance for the purpose of hiring someone to kill several individuals. Three of the intended victims are witnesses who testified against him at his federal trial."
The affidavit alleges that Sherifi showed his brother's girlfriend, Nevine Aly Elshiekh, notes that he wanted passed on to another individual who was also an informant in the case.
Elshiekh allegedly passed the information on to the second informant, who claimed to be in contact with a hitman known only as "Treetop." During a January 2, 2012 meeting the second informant allegedly showed Elshiekh a picture of one of the targets and the two discussed a $5,000 payment for the killings. "I got the picture from Treetop," the informant allegedly told Elshiekh, "and Treetop wants to make sure it's the right person to be killed."
On Jan. 8, 2012, Sherifi's brother Shkumbin Sherifi visited his brother at the New Hanover County jail. Two hours later, Shkumbin allegedly arranged a call with the second informant to meet him and get money to him. The court papers note that Shkumbin Sherifi allegedly brought the informant $4,250.
During the meeting the informant allegedly asked Shkumbin Sherifi, "You need to ask [Hysen] Sherifi which one he want [sic] killed. The black guy or Arab."
Shkumbin allegedly told the informant 'Okay, um does he, um, are you guys in touch?"
The court documents note that Shkumbin "claimed not to know what was going on but promised to speak with his brother and get a response."
Shkumbin Sherifi and Elshiekh are charged in the alleged murder-for-hire plot and are scheduled to have a detention hearing in Wilmington, N.C., on Friday. Hysen Sherifi has not yet been charged. The brothers are natives of Kosovo and emigrated with their family to the U.S. in the 1990s.