The Unkindest Cut

Hysen Sherifi was one of six devout Muslims convicted in 2011 of planning to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, among other targets.

Almost as soon as he started his 45-year prison sentence, Sherifi, now 29, got busy trying to hire a hitman to carry out revenge killings on government informants and FBI agents. He wanted the intended victims to be beheaded.


Sherifi approached another inmate to help him hire a hit man to behead government informants and FBI agents. He recruited his younger brother Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and former special education teacher Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, to help pay the hit man and organize the murders. But the inmate whose help Sherifi sought turned out to be yet another government informant. FBI agents then staged an elaborate sting that involved secretly videotaped meetings with a woman posing as the go-between for a fictional hit man named Treetop and doctored photos that appeared to show the corpse of a beheaded witness in a shallow grave.

Yesterday, in North Carolina District Court, Judge Earl Britt sentenced the younger Sherifi to three years in prison, while Elshiekh got three and a half years. They could have gotten ten years each but were spared a more draconian sentence because, the judge noted, the two had cooperated with the investigation.

Before Hysen Sherifi was sentenced, he lectured the judge about Islamic teachings. “The Qur’an is the truth that invalidates all other religions,” said Sherifi, who declined a court-appointed lawyer and represented himself at trial. “If you do not submit, he will severely judge you, and on the day of judgment you will enter hellfire.”

Judge Britt was unimpressed, and imposed four life sentences onto the end of Sherifi’s earlier 45-year prison term — plus, for good measure, another 50 years on top of that.