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Bomb Maker Loses Challenge After Search of Prison Cell

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

A Clarkston Washington man, in prison for making bombs and trying to give material support to terrorists, has lost a bid to go free after a search of his prison cell. 24-year old Joseph Jeffrey Brice, a college dropout, was sentenced two years ago for terrorism-related crimes. Before he was arrested and tried in Spokane federal court, Brice nearly killed himself in 2010 when a bomb he build blew up prematurely.

He was described as a terrorist sympathizer who idolized American terrorist Timothy McVeigh and Islamic jihadists. He posted U-Tube videos allied Strength of Allah several years ago, and even started a conversation on an Al-Queda associated web site with someone named "Abu Harith." Trouble is, Abu Harith turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

When Brice was badly injured by his own bomb in 2010, a Whitman County deputy decided not to file charges, because he believed the young man had learned a hard lesson. But the FBI, by that time, was investigating him on tips about his interest in bomb making. His latest setback came when he filed a demand to suppress evidence - 300 pages of documents - seized from his prison cell, claiming it was a violation of his 4th Amendment rights.

Federal appeals court judges scoffed at that, saying that Brice has no expectation of privacy in prison - therefore, he cannot make a claim of a warrantless search under the Constitution. They also made short work of his demand to remove the judge and the U-S Attorney's Office in Spokane from his case.

Despite his on-line flirtation with Islamic jihadists, federal officials now believe he was really just trying to find an audience for his bomb-making expertise.  

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