Boston Police Confiscate Sink From Protest Camp

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

After a four day court battle, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre ruled to extend a restraining order blocking the City of Boston from clearing out the tent city at Dewey Square. She will make a final ruling by Dec. 15. Until then, city officials can’t kick out the Occupy Boston protesters.

Occupy Boston started in Dewey Square on September 30, 2011. It was directly inspired by Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The continued occupation of Dewey Square—located in the heart of Boston’s Financial District—is one of more than 120 Occupy encampments in cities across the nation.

The protesters want elected officials to address the economic needs of the people and want to end the influence of corporate lobbyists. Mayor Thomas Menino states that he essentially agrees with these viewpoints, but feels that the park should be available for everyone, and that these issues would be best brought up with Washington. Fire Marshalls say the protest site is a fire hazard, while the Board of Health has pointed out health hazards related to lack of sanitation.

Occupy Boston attempted to address some of these concerns by bringing in a donated sink that was equipped for both hand-washing and dish-washing using bottled water. They also tried to bring in fireproof, winterized tents as well as wooden pallets to make the walkways safer. All these items have been confiscated by the police, who labeled them “contraband.”
On December 1, a struggle took place between protesters and police hauling away the donated sink from the food tent, which resulted in three arrests as people blocked the streets to prevent removal of the sink. The Occupy Boston website reads:

“Since the restraining order from Judge McIntyre prevents the Boston Police from dismantling our camp except in the case of a fire, violence, or other emergency, we are puzzled by this police action.”
Authorities have banned protesters from bringing material that could be used to convert the encampment into a permanent dwelling. Mayor Menino stated: “We’re not going to have them build a new town there.”

The City of Boston finds itself in a contradictory position. On one hand, the Mayor has frequently supported the right of protesters to voice their opinions while expressing concerns about safety, but on the other hand, the City is removing items essential for improving the health and safety of the protesters.

Protesters insist: “You cannot evict an idea. Occupy Boston will continue to improve our community in Dewey Square. We ask that the BPD uphold their stated commitment to protecting public safety by allowing Occupy Boston to properly maintain and equip our encampment for the cold weather.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. karinfriedemann.blogspot.com

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A Thirst for Blood

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

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There is a fine line that separates man from mere beast. This week that line was crossed by the armed rebels on the hunt for deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi as they stumbled upon him held up in a storm drain in his hometown of Sirte. The events surrounding his death are as rough as the various video footage of his demise. Each video, shot from different cell phones, tells its own story. Some show Gadhafi being shot in the arm while others show him being beaten. Yet another shows him being dragged across the ground, his clothes in disarray, after he was apparently sodomized.  And the most notable reveals a gunshot wound to his head.

The question is not whether or not Gadhafi deserved to pay for his vast array crimes that stretched clear around the globe for decades. The answer is very clear in that regard, Gadhafi indeed deserved to be punished for his reign of terror. The question that begs to be answered is whether or not armed militia had the right to take matters into their own hands denying one of the world’s worst dictators the very basic of human rights, a trial in a court of law. Now many will argue that Gadhafi was not human in the way that he treated his own people with disdain and disregard for the sanctity of human life. In all respects Gadhafi was the judge, jury and executioner in Libya. However, hasn’t the very premise that made the ‘Arab Spring’ so inspirational to the world been forever tainted in a gushing of crimson blood?

It only got worse as Libyans danced in the streets with joy upon hearing of Gadhafi’s wholesale execution as scores followed his bloodied body to a nearby shopping mall where it was put on display. Men, women and children lined up and waited to catch a glimpse of Gadhafi’s gruesome corpse while taking even more cell phone video footage to share with the rest of the world.

Instead of stooping to Gadhafi’s merciless level, it might have been better to have hauled him off, alive, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. A great number of Gadhafi’s victims would have been given the opportunity to speak out against the dictator who dogged them for years and humiliate him in an international arena. Gadhafi was all about appearances and it would have caused him greater suffering to be publicly disgraced than merely shot in the head. Gadhafi meticulously tortured and enslaved his people without even showing the slightest bit of remorse. How fitting it would have been to see him stripped of all his self-given powers and forced to spend his remaining days confined to a minuscule jail cell. And while Gadhafi’s suffering was over in a mere matter of minutes, the people whose lives he scarred have a long road of healing to undertake.

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The Informants

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?

By Trevor Aaronson

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James Cromitie was a man of bluster and bigotry. He made up wild stories about his supposed exploits, like the one about firing gas bombs into police precincts using a flare gun, and he ranted about Jews. “The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is better than 10 billion Yahudi,” he once said.

A 45-year-old Walmart stocker who’d adopted the name Abdul Rahman after converting to Islam during a prison stint for selling cocaine, Cromitie had lots of worries—convincing his wife he wasn’t sleeping around, keeping up with the rent, finding a decent job despite his felony record. But he dreamed of making his mark. He confided as much in a middle-aged Pakistani he knew as Maqsood.
“I’m gonna run into something real big,” he’d say. “I just feel it, I’m telling you. I feel it.”

Maqsood and Cromitie had met at a mosque in Newburgh, a struggling former Air Force town about an hour north of New York City. They struck up a friendship, talking for hours about the world’s problems and how the Jews were to blame.

It was all talk until November 2008, when Maqsood pressed his new friend.

“Do you think you are a better recruiter or a better action man?” Maqsood asked.

“I’m both,” Cromitie bragged.

“My people would be very happy to know that, brother. Honestly.”

“Who’s your people?” Cromitie asked.

“Jaish-e-Mohammad.”

Maqsood said he was an agent for the Pakistani terror group, tasked with assembling a team to wage jihad in the United States. He asked Cromitie what he would attack if he had the means. A bridge, Cromitie said.

“But bridges are too hard to be hit,” Maqsood pleaded, “because they’re made of steel.”

“Of course they’re made of steel,” Cromitie replied. “But the same way they can be put up, they can be brought down.”

Maqsood coaxed Cromitie toward a more realistic plan. The Mumbai attacks were all over the news, and he pointed out how those gunmen targeted hotels, cafés, and a Jewish community center.

“With your intelligence, I know you can manipulate someone,” Cromitie told his friend. “But not me, because I’m intelligent.” The pair settled on a plot to bomb synagogues in the Bronx, and then fire Stinger missiles at airplanes taking off from Stewart International Airport in the southern Hudson Valley. Maqsood would provide all the explosives and weapons, even the vehicles. “We have two missiles, okay?” he offered. “Two Stingers, rocket missiles.”

Maqsood was an undercover operative; that much was true. But not for Jaish-e-Mohammad. His real name was Shahed Hussain, and he was a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ever since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s No. 1 priority, consuming the lion’s share of its budget—$3.3 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for organized crime—and much of the attention of field agents and a massive, nationwide network of informants. After years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies—many of them tasked, as Hussain was, with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. In addition, for every informant officially listed in the bureau’s records, there are as many as three unofficial ones, according to one former high-level FBI official, known in bureau parlance as “hip pockets.”

The bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies, some paid as much as $100,000 per case, many of them tasked with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States.

The informants could be doctors, clerks, imams. Some might not even consider themselves informants. But the FBI regularly taps all of them as part of a domestic intelligence apparatus whose only historical peer might be COINTELPRO, the program the bureau ran from the ‘50s to the ‘70s to discredit and marginalize organizations ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to civil-rights and protest groups.

Throughout the FBI’s history, informant numbers have been closely guarded secrets. Periodically, however, the bureau has released those figures. A Senate oversight committee in 1975 found the FBI had 1,500 informants. In 1980, officials disclosed there were 2,800. Six years later, following the FBI’s push into drugs and organized crime, the number of bureau informants ballooned to 6,000, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986. And according to the FBI, the number grew significantly after 9/11. In its fiscal year 2008 budget authorization request, the FBI disclosed that it it had been been working under a November 2004 presidential directive demanding an increase in “human source development and management,” and that it needed $12.7 million for a program to keep tabs on its spy network and create software to track and manage informants.

The bureau’s strategy has changed significantly from the days when officials feared another coordinated, internationally financed attack from an Al Qaeda sleeper cell. Today, counterterrorism experts believe groups like Al Qaeda, battered by the war in Afghanistan and the efforts of the global intelligence community, have shifted to a franchise model, using the internet to encourage sympathizers to carry out attacks in their name. The main domestic threat, as the FBI sees it, is a lone wolf.

The bureau’s answer has been a strategy known variously as “preemption,” “prevention,” and “disruption”—identifying and neutralizing potential lone wolves before they move toward action. To that end, FBI agents and informants target not just active jihadists, but tens of thousands of law-abiding people, seeking to identify those disgruntled few who might participate in a plot given the means and the opportunity. And then, in case after case, the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity.

Here’s how it works: Informants report to their handlers on people who have, say, made statements sympathizing with terrorists. Those names are then cross-referenced with existing intelligence data, such as immigration and criminal records. FBI agents may then assign an undercover operative to approach the target by posing as a radical. Sometimes the operative will propose a plot, provide explosives, even lead the target in a fake oath to Al Qaeda. Once enough incriminating information has been gathered, there’s an arrest—and a press conference announcing another foiled plot.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because such sting operations are a fixture in the headlines. Remember the Washington Metro bombing plot? The New York subway plot? The guys who planned to blow up the Sears Tower? The teenager seeking to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting? Each of those plots, and dozens more across the nation, was led by an FBI asset.

Over the past year, Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found:

•    Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. (For more on the details of those 508 cases, see Mother Jones’ charts page and searchable database.)

•    Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.

•    With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings. (The exceptions are Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the New York City subway system in September 2009; Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian who opened fire on the El-Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport; and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.)

•    In many sting cases, key encounters between the informant and the target were not recorded—making it hard for defendants claiming entrapment to prove their case.

•    Terrorism-related charges are so difficult to beat in court, even when the evidence is thin, that defendants often don’t risk a trial.

“The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents,” says Martin Stolar, a lawyer who represented a man caught in a 2004 sting involving New York’s Herald Square subway station. “They’re creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror.” In the FBI’s defense, supporters argue that the bureau will only pursue a case when the target clearly is willing to participate in violent action. “If you’re doing a sting right, you’re offering the target multiple chances to back out,” says Peter Ahearn, a retired FBI special agent who directed the Western New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and oversaw the investigation of the Lackawanna Six, an alleged terror cell near Buffalo, New York. “Real people don’t say, ‘Yeah, let’s go bomb that place.’ Real people call the cops.”

Even so, Ahearn concedes that the uptick in successful terrorism stings might not be evidence of a growing threat so much as a greater focus by the FBI. “If you concentrate more people on a problem,” Ahearn says, “you’ll find more problems.” Today, the FBI follows up on literally every single call, email, or other terrorism-related tip it receives for fear of missing a clue.

And the emphasis is unlikely to shift anytime soon. Sting operations have “proven to be an essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing potential terror attacks,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a December 2010 speech to Muslim lawyers and civil rights activists. President Obama’s Department of Justice has announced sting-related prosecutions at an even faster clip than the Bush administration, with 44 new cases since January 2009. With the war on terror an open-ended and nebulous conflict, the FBI doesn’t have an exit strategy.

Located deep in a wooded area on a Marine Corps base west of Interstate 95—a setting familiar from Silence of the Lambs—is the sandstone fortress of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This building, erected under J. Edgar Hoover, is where to this day every FBI special agent is trained.

J. Stephen Tidwell graduated from the academy in 1981 and over the years rose to executive assistant director, one of the 10 highest positions in the FBI; in 2008, he coauthored the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG [45] (PDF), the manual for what agents and informants can and cannot do.

A former Texas cop, Tidwell is a barrel-chested man with close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair. He’s led some of the FBI’s highest-profile investigations, including the DC sniper case and the probe of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

On a cloudy spring afternoon, Tidwell, dressed in khakis and a blue sweater, drove me in his black Ford F-350 through Hogan’s Alley—a 10-acre Potemkin village with houses, bars, stores, and a hotel. Agents learning the craft role-play stings, busts, and bank robberies here, and inside jokes and pop-culture references litter the place (which itself gets its name from a 19th-century comic strip). At one end of the town is the Biograph Theater, named for the Chicago movie house where FBI agents gunned down John Dillinger in 1934. (“See,” Tidwell says. “The FBI has a sense of humor.”)

Inside the academy, a more somber tone prevails. Plaques everywhere honor agents who have been killed on the job. Tidwell takes me to one that commemorates John O’Neill, who became chief of the bureau’s then-tiny counterterrorism section in 1995. For years before retiring from the FBI, O’Neill warned of Al Qaeda’s increasing threat, to no avail. In late August 2001, he left the bureau to take a job as head of security for the World Trade Center, where he died 19 days later at the hands of the enemy he’d told the FBI it should fear. The agents he had trained would end up reshaping the bureau’s counterterrorism operations.

Before 9/11, FBI agents considered chasing terrorists an undesirable career path, and their training did not distinguish between Islamic terror tactics and those employed by groups like the Irish Republican Army. “A bombing case is a bombing case,” Dale Watson, who was the FBI’s counterterrorism chief on 9/11, said in a December 2004 deposition. The FBI also did not train agents in Arabic or require most of them to learn about radical Islam. “I don’t necessarily think you have to know everything about the Ku Klux Klan to investigate a church bombing,” Watson said. The FBI had only one Arabic speaker in New York City and fewer than 10 nationwide.

But shortly after 9/11, President George W. Bush called FBI Director Robert Mueller to Camp David. His message: never again. And so Mueller committed to turn the FBI into a counterintelligence organization rivaling Britain’s MI5 in its capacity for surveillance and clandestine activity. Federal law enforcement went from a focus on fighting crime to preventing crime; instead of accountants and lawyers cracking crime syndicates, the bureau would focus on Jack Bauer-style operators disrupting terror groups.

To help run the counterterrorism section, Mueller drafted Arthur Cummings, a former Navy SEAL who’d investigated the first World Trade Center bombing. Cummings pressed agents to focus not only on their immediate target, but also on the extended web of people linked to the target. “We’re looking for the sympathizer who wants to become an operator, and we want to catch them when they step over that line to operator,” Cummings says. “Sometimes, that step takes 10 years. Other times, it takes 10 minutes.” The FBI’s goal is to create a hostile environment for terrorist recruiters and operators—by raising the risk of even the smallest step toward violent action. It’s a form of deterrence, an adaptation of the “broken windows” theory used to fight urban crime. Advocates insist it has been effective, noting that there hasn’t been a successful large-scale attack against the United States since 9/11. But what can’t be answered—as many former and current FBI agents acknowledge—is how many of the bureau’s targets would have taken the step over the line at all, were it not for an informant.

So how did the FBI build its informant network? It began by asking where US Muslims lived. Four years after 9/11, the bureau brought in a CIA expert on intelligence-gathering methods named Phil Mudd. His tool of choice was a data-mining system using commercially available information, as well as government data such as immigration records, to pinpoint the demographics of specific ethnic and religious communities—say, Iranians in Beverly Hills or Pakistanis in the DC suburbs.

The FBI officially denies that the program, known as Domain Management, works this way—its purpose, the bureau says, is simply to help allocate resources according to threats. But FBI agents told me that with counterterrorism as the bureau’s top priority, agents often look for those threats in Muslim communities—and Domain Management allows them to quickly understand those communities’ makeup. One high-ranking former FBI official jokingly referred to it as “Battlefield Management.”

Some FBI veterans criticized the program as unproductive and intrusive—one told Mudd during a high-level meeting that he’d pushed the bureau to “the dark side.” That tension has its roots in the stark difference between the FBI and the CIA: While the latter is free to operate internationally without regard to constitutional rights, the FBI must respect those rights in domestic investigations, and Mudd’s critics saw the idea of targeting Americans based on their ethnicity and religion as a step too far.

Nonetheless, Domain Management quickly became the foundation for the FBI’s counterterrorism dragnet. Using the demographic data, field agents were directed to target specific communities to recruit informants. Some agents were assigned to the task full time. And across the bureau, agents’ annual performance evaluations are now based in part on their recruiting efforts.

People cooperate with law enforcement for fairly simple reasons: ego, patriotism, money, or coercion. The FBI’s recruitment has relied heavily on the latter. One tried-and-true method is to flip someone facing criminal charges. But since 9/11 the FBI has also relied heavily on Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with which it has worked closely as part of increased interagency coordination. A typical scenario will play out like this: An FBI agent trying to get someone to cooperate will look for evidence that the person has immigration troubles. If they do, he can ask ICE to begin or expedite deportation proceedings. If the immigrant then chooses to cooperate, the FBI will tell the court that he is a valuable asset, averting deportation.

A well-muscled 49-year-old with a shaved scalp, Craig Monteilh has been a versatile snitch: He’s pretended to be a white supremacist, a Russian hit man, a Sicilian drug trafficker, and a French-Syrian Muslim.

Sometimes, the target of this kind of push is the one person in a mosque who will know everyone’s business—the imam. Two Islamic religious leaders, Foad Farahi in Miami and Sheikh Tarek Saleh in New York City, are currently fighting deportation proceedings that, they claim, began after they refused to become FBI assets. The Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center has filed similar complaints on behalf of seven other Muslims with the Department of Homeland Security.

Once someone has signed on as an informant, the first assignment is often a fishing expedition. Informants have said in court testimony that FBI handlers have tasked them with infiltrating mosques without a specific target. or “predicate”—the term of art for the reason why someone is investigated. They were, they say, directed to surveil law-abiding Americans with no indication of criminal intent.

“The FBI is now telling agents they can go into houses of worship without probable cause,” says Farhana Khera, executive director of the San Francisco-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates. “That raises serious constitutional issues.”

Tidwell himself will soon have to defend these practices in court—he’s among those named in a class-action lawsuit [52] (PDF) over an informant’s allegation that the FBI used him to spy on a number of mosques in Southern California.

That informant, Craig Monteilh, is a convicted felon who made his money ripping off cocaine dealers before becoming an asset for the Drug Enforcement Administration and later the FBI. A well-muscled 49-year-old with a shaved scalp, Monteilh has been a particularly versatile snitch: He’s pretended to be a white supremacist, a Russian hit man, and a Sicilian drug trafficker. He says when the FBI sent him into mosques (posing as a French-Syrian Muslim), he was told to act as a decoy for any radicals who might seek to convert him—and to look for information to help flip congregants as informants, such as immigration status, extramarital relationships, criminal activities, and drug use. “Blackmail is the ultimate goal,” Monteilh says.

Officially, the FBI denies it blackmails informants. “We are prohibited from using threats or coercion,” says Kathleen Wright, an FBI spokeswoman. (She acknowledges that the bureau has prevented helpful informants from being deported.)

FBI veterans say reality is different from the official line. “We could go to a source and say, ‘We know you’re having an affair. If you work with us, we won’t tell your wife,’” says a former top FBI counterterrorism official. “Would we actually call the wife if the source doesn’t cooperate? Not always. You do get into ethics here—is this the right thing to do?—but legally this isn’t a question. If you obtained the information legally, then you can use it however you want.”

But eventually, Monteilh’s operation imploded in spectacular fashion. In December 2007, police in Irvine, California, charged him with bilking two women out of $157,000 as part of an alleged human growth hormone scam. Monteilh has maintained it was actually part of an FBI investigation, and that agents instructed him to plead guilty to a grand-theft charge and serve eight months so as not to blow his cover. The FBI would “clean up” the charge later, Monteilh says he was told. That didn’t happen, and Monteilh has alleged in court filings that the government put him in danger by letting fellow inmates know that he was an informant. (FBI agents told me the bureau wouldn’t advise an informant to plead guilty to a state criminal charge; instead, agents would work with local prosecutors to delay or dismiss the charge.)

The class-action suit, filed by the ACLU, alleges that Tidwell, then the bureau’s Los Angeles-based assistant director, signed off on Monteilh’s operation. And Tidwell says he’s eager to defend the bureau in court. “There is not the blanket suspicion of the Muslim community that they think there is,” Tidwell says. “We’re just looking for the bad guys. Anything the FBI does is going to be interpreted as monitoring Muslims. I would tell [critics]: ‘Do you really think I have the time and money to monitor all the mosques and Arab American organizations? We don’t. And I don’t want to.’”
 
Shady informants, of course, are as old as the FBI; one saying in the bureau is, “To catch the devil, you have to go to hell.” Another is, “The only problem worse than having an informant is not having an informant.” Back in the ‘80s, the FBI made a cottage industry of drug stings—a source of countless Hollywood plots, often involving briefcases full of cocaine and Miami as the backdrop.

It’s perhaps fitting, then, that one of the earliest known terrorism stings also unfolded in Miami, though it wasn’t launched by the FBI. Instead the protagonist was a Canadian bodyguard and, as a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, newspaper put it in 2002 [53], “a 340-pound man with a fondness for firearms and strippers.” He subscribed to Soldier of Fortune [54] and hung around a police supply store on a desolate stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, north of Miami.

Howard Gilbert aspired to be a CIA agent but lacked pertinent experience. So to pad his résumé, he hatched a plan to infiltrate a mosque in the suburb of Pembroke Pines by posing as a Muslim convert named Saif Allah [55]. He told congregants that he was a former Marine and a security expert, and one night in late 2000, he gave a speech about the plight of Palestinians.

“That was truly the night that launched me into the terrorist umbrella of South Florida,” Gilbert would later brag [56] to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Nineteen-year-old congregant Imran Mandhai, stirred by the oration, approached Gilbert and asked if he could provide him weapons and training. Gilbert, who had been providing information to the FBI, contacted his handlers and asked for more money to work on the case. (He later claimed that the bureau had paid him $6,000.) But he ultimately couldn’t deliver—the target had sensed something fishy about his new friend.

The bureau also brought in Elie Assaad [57], a seasoned informant originally from Lebanon. He told Mandhai that he was an associate of Osama bin Laden tasked with establishing a training camp in the United States. Gilbert suggested attacking electrical substations in South Florida, and Assaad offered to provide a weapon. FBI agents then arrested Mandhai; he pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison. It was a model of what would become the bureau’s primary counterterrorism M.O.—identifying a target, offering a plot, and then pouncing.

“These guys were homeless types,” one former FBI official says about the alleged Sears Tower plotters. “And yes, we did show a picture where somebody was taking the oath to Al Qaeda. So what?” Illustration: Jeffrey SmithGilbert himself didn’t get to bask in his glory; he never worked for the FBI again and died in 2004. Assaad, for his part, ran into some trouble when his pregnant wife called 911. She said Assaad had beaten and choked her to the point that she became afraid [58] for her unborn baby; he was arrested, but in the end his wife refused to press charges.

The jail stint didn’t keep Assaad from working for the FBI on what would turn out to be perhaps the most high-profile terrorism bust of the post-9/11 era. In 2005, the bureau got a tip [59] from an informant about a group of alleged terrorists in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. The targets were seven men [60]—some African American, others Haitian—who called themselves the “Seas of David” [61] and ascribed to religious beliefs that blended Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The men were martial-arts enthusiasts who operated out of a dilapidated warehouse, where they also taught classes for local kids. The Seas of David’s leader was Narseal Batiste [62], the son of a Louisiana preacher, father of four, and a former Guardian Angel.

In response to the informant’s tip, the FBI had him wear a wire during meetings with the men, but he wasn’t able to engage them in conversations about terrorist plots. So he introduced the group to Assaad, now playing an Al Qaeda operative. At the informant’s request, Batiste took photographs of the FBI office in North Miami Beach and was caught on tape discussing a notion to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago. Assaad led Batiste, and later the other men, in swearing an oath to Al Qaeda, though the ceremony (recorded and entered into evidence at trial) bore a certain “Who’s on First?” flavor:

“God’s pledge is upon me, and so is his compact,” Assaad said as he and Batiste sat in his car. “Repeat after me.”

“Okay. Allah’s pledge is upon you.”

“No, you have to repeat exactly. God’s pledge is upon me, and so is his compact. You have to repeat.”

Ultimately, the undercover recordings suggest that Batiste was mostly trying to shake down his “terrorist” friend.

“Well, I can’t say Allah?” Batiste asked.

“Yeah, but this is an English version because Allah, you can say whatever you want, but—”

“Okay. Of course.”

“Okay.”

“Allah’s pledge is upon me. And so is his compact,” Batiste said, adding: “That means his angels, right?”

“Uh, huh. To commit myself,” Assaad continued.

“To commit myself.”

“Brother.”

“Brother,” Batiste repeated.

“Uh. That’s, uh, what’s your, uh, what’s your name, brother?”

“Ah, Brother Naz.”

“Okay. To commit myself,” the informant repeated.

“To commit myself.”

“Brother.”

“Brother.”

“You’re not—you have to say your name!” Assaad cried.

“Naz. Naz.”

“Uh. To commit myself. I am Brother Naz. You can say, ‘To commit myself.’”

“To commit myself, Brother Naz.”

Things went smoothly until Assaad got to a reference to being “protective of the secrecy of the oath and to the directive of Al Qaeda.”

Here Batiste stopped. “And to…what is the directive of?”

“Directive of Al Qaeda,” the informant answered.

“So now let me ask you this part here. That means that Al Qaeda will be over us?”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Assaad said. “It’s an alliance.”

“Oh. Well…” Batiste said, sounding resigned.

“It’s an alliance, but it’s like a commitment, by, uh, like, we respect your rules. You respect our rules,” Assaad explained.

“Uh, huh,” Batiste mumbled.

“And to the directive of Al Qaeda,” Assaad said, waiting for Batiste to repeat.

“Okay, can I say an alliance?” Batiste asked. “And to the alliance of Al Qaeda?”

“Of the alliance, of the directive—” Assaad said, catching himself. “You know what you can say? And to the directive and the alliance of Al Qaeda.”

“Okay, directive and alliance of Al Qaeda,” Batiste said.

“Okay,” the informant said. “Now officially you have commitment and we have alliance between each other. And welcome, Brother Naz, to Al Qaeda.”

Or not. Ultimately, the undercover recordings made by Assaad suggest that Batiste, who had a failing drywall business and had trouble making the rent for the warehouse, was mostly trying to shake down his “terrorist” friend. After first asking the informant for $50,000, Batiste is recorded in conversation after conversation asking how soon he’ll have the cash.

“Let me ask you a question,” he says in one exchange. “Once I give you an account number, how long do you think it’s gonna take to get me something in?”

“So you is scratching my back, [I’m] scratching your back—we’re like this,” Assaad dodged.

“Right,” Batiste said.

“When we put forth a case like that to suggest to the American public that we’re protecting them, we’re not protecting them. The agents back in the bullpen, they know it’s not true.”

The money never materialized. Neither did any specific terrorist plot. Nevertheless, federal prosecutors charged (PDF [63]) Batiste and his cohorts—whom the media dubbed the Liberty City Seven—with conspiracy to support terrorism, destroy buildings, and levy war against the US government. Perhaps the key piece of evidence was the video of Assaad’s Al Qaeda “oath.” Assaad was reportedly paid [64] $85,000 for his work on the case; the other informant got $21,000.

James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent, was hired to review the Liberty City case as a consultant for the defense. In his opinion, the informant simply picked low-hanging fruit. “These guys couldn’t find their way down the end of the street,” Wedick says. “They were homeless types. And, yes, we did show a picture where somebody was taking the oath to Al Qaeda. So what? They didn’t care. They only cared about the money. When we put forth a case like that to suggest to the American public that we’re protecting them, we’re not protecting them. The agents back in the bullpen, they know it’s not true.”

Indeed, the Department of Justice had a difficult time winning convictions in the Liberty City case. In three separate trials, juries deadlocked [65] on most of the charges, eventually acquitting one of the defendants (charges against another were dropped) and convicting five of crimes that landed them in prison for between 7 to 13 years. When it was all over, Assaad told ABC News’ Brian Ross [57] that he had a special sense for terrorists: “God gave me a certain gift.”

But he didn’t have a gift for sensing trouble. After the Liberty City case, Assaad moved on to Texas and founded a low-rent modeling agency [66]. In March, when police tried to pull him over, he led them in a chase through El Paso [67] (with his female passenger jumping out at one point), hit a cop with his car, and ended up rolling his SUV on the freeway. Reached by phone, Assaad declined to comment. He’s saving his story, he says, for a book he’s pitching to publishers.

Not all of the more than 500 terrorism prosecutions [24] reviewed in this investigation are so action-movie ready. But many do have an element of mystery. For example, though recorded conversations are often a key element of prosecutions, in many sting cases the FBI didn’t record large portions of the investigation, particularly during initial encounters or at key junctures during the sting. When those conversations come up in court, the FBI and prosecutors will instead rely on the account of an informant with a performance bonus on the line.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud [68] was an 18-year old wannabe rapper when an FBI agent asked if he’d like to “help the brothers.” Eventually the FBI gave him a fake car bomb and a phone to blow it up during a Christmas tree lighting. Illustration: Jeffrey SmithOne of the most egregious examples of a missing recording involves a convoluted tale that begins in the early morning hours of November 1, 2009, with a date-rape allegation on the campus of Oregon State University. Following a Halloween party, 18-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud [69], a Somali-born US citizen, went home with another student. The next morning, the woman reported to police that she believed she had been drugged.

Campus police brought Mohamud in for questioning and a polygraph test; FBI agents, who for reasons that have not been disclosed had been keeping an eye on the teen for about a month, were also there [70]. Mohamud claimed that the sex was consensual, and a drug test given to his accuser eventually came back negative.

During the interrogation, OSU police asked Mohamud if a search of his laptop would indicate that he’d researched date-rape drugs. He said it wouldn’t and gave them permission to examine his hard drive. Police copied its entire contents and turned the data over to the FBI—which discovered, it later alleged in court documents, that Mohamud had emailed someone in northwest Pakistan talking about jihad.

Soon after his run-in with police, Mohamud began to receive emails from “Bill Smith,” a self-described terrorist who encouraged him to “help the brothers.” “Bill,” an FBI agent, arranged for Mohamud to meet one of his associates in a Portland hotel room. There, Mohamud told the agents that he’d been thinking of jihad since age 15. When asked what he might want to attack, Mohamud suggested the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony [71]. The agents set Mohamud up with a van that he thought was filled with explosives. On November 26, 2010, Mohamud and one of the agents drove the van to Portland’s Pioneer Square, and Mohamud dialed [72] the phone to trigger the explosion. Nothing. He dialed again. Suddenly FBI agents appeared and dragged him away as he kicked and yelled, “Allahu akbar!” Prosecutors charged him with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction; his trial is pending.

The FBI’s defenders say the bureau must flush out terrorist sympathizers before they act. “What would you do?” asks one. “Wait for him to figure it out himself?”

The Portland case has been held up as an example of how FBI stings can make a terrorist where there might have been only an angry loser. “This is a kid who, it can be reasonably inferred, barely had the capacity to put his shoes on in the morning,” Wedick says.

But Tidwell, the retired FBI official, says Mohamud was exactly the kind of person the FBI needs to flush out. “That kid was pretty specific about what he wanted to do,” he says. “What would you do in response? Wait for him to figure it out himself? If you’ll notice, most of these folks [targeted in stings] plead guilty. They don’t say, ‘I’ve been entrapped,’ or, ‘I was immature.’” That’s true—though it’s also true that defendants and their attorneys know that the odds of succeeding at trial are vanishingly small. Nearly two-thirds of all terrorism prosecutions since 9/11 have ended in guilty pleas, and experts hypothesize that it’s difficult for such defendants to get a fair trial. “The plots people are accused of being part of—attacking subway systems or trying to bomb a building—are so frightening that they can overwhelm a jury,” notes David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who has studied these types of cases.

But the Mohamud story wasn’t quite over—it would end up changing the course of another case on the opposite side of the country. In Maryland, rookie FBI agent Keith Bender had been working a sting against 21-year-old Antonio Martinez [73], a recent convert to Islam who’d posted inflammatory comments on Facebook [74] (“The sword is cummin the reign of oppression is about 2 cease inshallah”). An FBI informant had befriended Martinez and, in recorded conversations, they talked about attacking a military recruiting station.

Just as the sting was building to its climax, Martinez saw news reports about the Mohamud case, and how there was an undercover operative involved. He worried: Was he, too, being lured into a sting? He called his supposed terrorist contact: “I’m not falling for no BS,” he told him [74].

Faced with the risk of losing the target, the informant—whose name is not revealed in court records—met with Martinez and pulled him back into the plot. But while the informant had recorded numerous previous meetings with Martinez, no recording [75] was made for this key conversation; in affidavits, the FBI blamed a technical glitch. Two weeks later, on December 8, 2010, Martinez parked what he thought was a car bomb in front of a recruitment center and was arrested when he tried to detonate [76] it.

Frances Townsend, who served as homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, concedes that missing recordings in terrorism stings seem suspicious. But, she says, it’s more common than you might think: “I can’t tell you how many times I had FBI agents in front of me and I yelled, ‘You have hundreds of hours of recordings, but you didn’t record this meeting.’ Sometimes, I admit, they might not record something intentionally”—for fear, she says, that the target will notice. “But more often than not, it’s a technical issue.”

Wedick, the former FBI agent, is less forgiving. “With the technology the FBI now has access to—these small devices that no one would ever suspect are recorders or transmitters—there’s no excuse not to tape interactions between the informant and the target,” he says. “So why in many of these terrorism stings are meetings not recorded? Because it’s convenient for the FBI not to record.”

So what really happens as an informant works his target, sometimes over a period of years, and eases him over the line? For the answer to that, consider once more the case of James Cromitie [7], the Walmart stocker with a hatred of Jews. Cromitie was the ringleader in the much-publicized Bronx synagogue bombing plot that went to trial last year [77]. But a closer look at the record reveals that while Cromitie was no one’s idea of a nice guy, whatever leadership existed in the plot emanated from his sharply dressed, smooth-talking friend Maqsood, a.k.a. FBI informant Shahed Hussain.

A Pakistani refugee who claimed to be friends with Benazir Bhutto and had a soft spot for fancy cars, Hussain was by then one of the FBI’s more successful counterterrorism informants. (See our timeline of Hussain’s career as an informant [12].) He’d originally come to the bureau’s attention when he was busted in a DMV scam [78] that charged test takers $300 to $500 for a license. Having “worked off” those charges, he’d transitioned from indentured informant to paid snitch, earning as much as $100,000 per assignment.

At trial, informant Hussain admitted that he created the “impression” that his target would make big money by bombing synagogues in the Bronx.

Hussain was assigned to visit a mosque in Newburgh, where he would start conversations with strangers about jihad [79]. “I was finding people who would be harmful, and radicals, and identify them for the FBI,” Hussain said during Cromitie’s trial. Most of the mosque’s congregants were poor, and Hussain, who posed as a wealthy businessman and always arrived in one of his four luxury cars [80]—a Hummer, a Mercedes, two different BMWs—made plenty of friends. But after more than a year working the local Muslim community, he had not identified a single actual target [81].

Then, one day in June 2008, Cromitie approached Hussain in the parking lot outside the mosque. The two became friends, and Hussain clearly had Cromitie’s number. “Allah didn’t bring you here to work for Walmart,” he told him [82] at one point.

Cromitie, who once claimed he could “con the corn from the cob,” had a history of mental instability. He told a psychiatrist that he saw and heard things that weren’t there and had twice tried to commit suicide [83]. He told tall tales, most of them entirely untrue—like the one about how his brother stole $126 million worth of stuff from Tiffany.

Exactly what Hussain and Cromitie talked about in the first four months of their relationship isn’t known, because the FBI did not record [84] those conversations. Based on later conversations, it’s clear that Hussain cultivated Cromitie assiduously. He took the target, all expenses paid [85] by the FBI, to an Islamic conference in Philadelphia to meet Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a prominent African-American Muslim leader. He helped pay Cromitie’s rent [86]. He offered to buy him a barbershop [87]. Finally, he asked Cromitie to recruit others [88] and help him bomb synagogues.

On April 7, 2009, at 2:45 p.m., Cromitie and Hussain sat on a couch inside an FBI cover house on Shipp Street in Newburgh. A hidden camera [89] was trained on the living room.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Cromitie told the informant [90].

“Who? I—”

“Think about it before you speak,” Cromitie interrupted.

“If there is American soldiers, I don’t care,” Hussain said, trying a fresh angle.

“Hold up,” Cromitie agreed. “If it’s American soldiers, I don’t even care.”

“If it’s kids, I care,” Hussain said. “If it’s women, I care.”

“I care. That’s what I’m worried about. And I’m going to tell you, I don’t care if it’s a whole synagogue of men.”

“Yep.”

“I would take ‘em down, I don’t even care. ‘Cause I know they are the ones.”

“We have the equipment to do it.”

“See, see, I’m not worried about nothing. Ya know? What I’m worried about is my safety,” Cromitie said.

“Oh, yeah, safety comes first.”

“I want to get in and I want to get out.”

“Trust me,” Hussain assured.

At Cromitie’s trial, Hussain would admit that he created the—in his word—”impression” that Cromitie would make a lot of money by bombing synagogues.

“I can make you $250,000, but you don’t want it, brother,” he once told [91] Cromitie when the target seemed hesitant. “What can I tell you?” (Asked about the exchange in court, Hussain said that “$250,000” was simply a code word for the bombing plot—a code word, he admitted, that only he knew.)

But whether for ideology or money, Cromitie did recruit three others, and they did take photographs of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh as well as of synagogues in the Bronx. On May 20, 2009, Hussain drove Cromitie [92] to the Bronx, where Cromitie put what he believed were bombs [93] inside cars he thought had been parked by Hussain’s coconspirators. Once all the dummy bombs were placed, Cromitie headed back to the getaway car [94]—Hussain was in the driver’s seat—and then a SWAT team surrounded the car.

At trial, Cromitie told the judge [95]: “I am not a violent person. I’ve never been a terrorist, and I never will be. I got myself into this stupid mess. I know I said a lot of stupid stuff.” He was sentenced to 25 years.

For his trouble, the FBI paid Hussain $96,000 [96]. Then he moved on to another case, another mosque, somewhere in the United States.

For this project, Mother Jones partnered with the University of California-Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program [97], headed by Lowell Bergman, where Trevor Aaronson [98] was an investigative fellow. The Fund for Investigative Journalism [99] also provided support for Aaronson’s reporting. Lauren Ellis [100] and Hamed Aleaziz [101] contributed additional research.

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Source URL: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants
Links:
[1] http://motherjones.com/special-reports/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants
[2] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants
[3] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/proxy-detention-gulet-mohamed
[4] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/brandon-darby-anarchist-fbi-terrorism
[5] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/terror-trials-numbers
[6] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-surveillance-video-sting
[7] http://motherjones.com/node/127157
[8] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/230124-cromite-uc-transcripts-1.html#document/p21/a30101
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[10] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/230124-cromite-uc-transcripts-1.html#document/p121/a30102
[11] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/230139-cromite-uc-transcripts-2.html#document/p109/a12
[12] http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/shahed-hussain-fbi-informant
[13] http://vault.fbi.gov/cointel-pro
[14] http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0509/chapter2.htm
[15] http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-15/news/mn-11287_1_fbi-informant
[16] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/238034-33-fbi-se-2.html
[17] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/238034-33-fbi-se-2.html#document/p38/a30817
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[19] http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=6824533
[20] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/10/27/national/main6996775.shtml
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[23] http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2010/1129/FBI-alleged-Christmas-tree-bomber-thought-9-11-was-awesome
[24] http://motherjones.com/fbi-terrorist
[25] http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/April/10-ag-473.html
[26] http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91485&page=1
[27] http://motherjones.com/fbi-terrorist/faisal-shahzad-times-square-car-bomb
[28] http://motherjones.com/politics/2003/03/living-age-fire
[29] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00001001—-000-.html
[30] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/231565-taxing-terrorism-from-al-capone-to-al-qaida.html
[31] http://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_25.htm
[32] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/231567-farhana-khera.html
[33] http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=provocateur
[34] http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/FBI/a0902/app5.htm
[35] http://vault.fbi.gov/FBI%20Domestic%20Investigations%20and%20Operations%20Guide%20%28DIOG%29
[36] http://books.google.com/books?id=DFlIcxsGUEIC&lpg=PA52&ots=X8vwNY-3f9&dq=cointelpro%20naacp&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[37] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/231566-cointelpro.html
[38] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/231572-fbi-compliance-with-attorny-generals-guidelines.html
[39] http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0509/chapter3.htm
[40] http://www.justice.gov/jttf/
[41] http://www.ice.gov/jttf/
[42] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00002339—A000-.html
[43] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/231575-ahmedindictment.html
[44] http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/ag/speeches/2010/ag-speech-1012101.html
[45] http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/nytint/docs/the-new-operations-manual-from-the-f-b-i/original.pdf?scp=1&sq=FBI%20Domestic%20Investigations%20and%20Operations%20Guidelines%20%28DOG%29&st=cse
[46] http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/training/hogans-alley
[47] http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2004/july/dillinger_072304
[48] http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/01/14/020114fa_fact_wright?currentPage=1
[49] http://www.slate.com/id/2146654/
[50] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/10/us/10fbi.html
[51] http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2009-10-08/news/unholy-war-fbi-tries-to-deport-north-miami-beach-imam-foad-farahi-for-refusing-to-be-an-informant/
[52] http://www.aclu-sc.org/downloads/40/585704.pdf
[53] http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2002-06-12/news/0206120212_1_fbi-informant-imran-mandhai
[54] http://www.sofmag.com/
[55] http://courtlistener.com/ca11/oNa/usa-v-imran-mandhai/
[56] http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2002-06-12/news/0206120212_1_fbi-informant-imran-mandhai/2
[57] http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8544160
[58] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/230973-assaadarrestreport.html#document/p2/a30249
[59] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101764_pf.html
[60] http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2006/June/06_ag_386.html
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[62] http://motherjones.com/node/126247
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[64] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/230978-asaadpaid.html#document/p2/a30293
[65] http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-04-17/news/17147416_1_mistrial-elie-assad-defense-lawyers
[66] http://www.fbmonitor.com/monitor/2010/10october/102810/community/102810_community5.html
[67] http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_17526478
[68] http://motherjones.com/fbi-terrorist/mohamed-osman-mohamud
[69] http://motherjones.com/node/127152
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[71] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/229270-mohamud-complaint.html#document/p5/a30261
[72] https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/229270-mohamud-complaint.html#document/p36/a30263
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13-36

LA District Attorney Settles Case Against Nativo Lopez

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Alexis Calvo

A settlement not totally to the liking of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office was finally reached after twenty-four months of attempting to bring to trial the case against Nativo Lopez, National President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana. Originally charging Lopez with eight felony counts of voter fraud and perjury in June 2009, District Attorney Steve Cooley finally conceded to eliminate seven counts and stand on one count of voter registration fraud, a felony wobblier, which will be reduced to a misdemeanor and expunged from the record (constituting a dismissal) after twelve months assuming Lopez complies with probation conditions of 400 community service hours.

The original case was filed by the district attorney in June 2009 with four felony charges and subsequently amended to include four additional felony counts for a total of eight. After one year the D.A. was unable to bring the case to a preliminary hearing, and actually came close to losing the case, Commissioner Kristi Lousteau, the first judge to hear the matter, was overheard to say by the eleventh month of the case. The D.A. then moved to convene the Los Angeles County Grand Jury to obtain an indictment, which it successfully did in June 2010. One year later, after three different judges ordered Lopez to be examined by court-ordered psychiatrists on six separate occasions and three incarcerations lasting from four hours to five days, including two instances of strict solitary confinement, and having been before six superior court judges, the case was finally set for trial on June 22nd before Superior Court Judge William Ryan.

Lopez sought to have private counsel engaged after defending the case himself for most of the two years with no previous legal court experience. However, two judges denied him the right to legal counsel of his choice and imposed on him the public defender over his repeated objections on the record. Judges George G. Lomeli and Patricia Schnegg also denied him additional time for private counsel to prepare for a trial.

With literally one day to prepare for a trial, review all discovery documents, interview prospective witnesses, and prepare pre-trial motions, the defense was inclined to offer a settlement in the interest of the defendant. At the end of the day, the district attorney’s office was motivated to drop seven felony counts, not seek any jail time, and settle for a plea on the one felony charge (defined as a wobblier – could be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor), which it conceded would be reduced to a misdemeanor and ultimately dismissed from the record once Lopez completes the community service hours. On the other hand, conviction of the eight felony counts was the equivalent of a 48-year prison sentence.

Lopez never conceded that he had not taken up residence in his Boyle Heights office during the height of the historic immigrants’ rights marches of 2006 thru 2008, the period under investigation by the D.A.’s office. Cooley conceded that Lopez had been registered to vote in only one location, not two, and that he voted only once in each of the elections – never in two jurisdictions and never more than once. To the prosecutor’s insistence that Lopez verbalize a plea of guilty to the one count, Lopez responded, “a plea of guilty has been entered because it is in my interest to do so based on the plea agreement reached with the district attorney’s office.” Judge Ryan immediately found this acceptable and so ordered.

Lopez was quoted as declaring, “I am happy to put this behind me, and ironically glad that District Attorney Steve Cooley brought the charges against me. Over the past two years I was forced to study the law, the judicial system, the common law, courtroom decorum and procedure, and the Uniform Commercial Code, like never before. Cooley put me on a course of study that I would not have otherwise pursued. With this knowledge I am now positioned to help literally tens of thousands of others to work their way through the legal system. I now intend to continue a serious study of law and commercial remedies for the layperson. I have turned lemons into lemonade.”

The offenses for which Lopez was charged are actually extremely common.

The most common occurrences of an individual registering to vote in a domicile where he does not live 100 percent of the time are college students living and studying elsewhere, but maintaining their voter registration address in the residence of their parents; business-persons who have a business address and a residence address elsewhere; and individuals who frequently travel and have multiple residences. Many people have made the observation that the prosecution by the D.A.’s office against Lopez was politically motivated and heavy-handed in terms of the multiple felony charges.

Dissimilar to other public officials charged with criminal offenses in the recent past, Lopez was not accused of texting pornographic photos of himself to women, soliciting sex from prostitutes, laundering money, trafficking arms, abusing drugs or alcohol, attempting to bribe a government official or soliciting a bribe for himself, sexual assault on a women, or other such felonious crime. He was accused of registering to vote from his office domicile and voting from that address and allegedly residing elsewhere – and because of that he received the wrath of Cooley’s office with eight felony charges.

Lopez was actually born in Boyle Heights and has maintained offices in East Los Angeles since the 1970s with the numerous organizations with which he has been affiliated over the past forty years, including the Center of Autonomous Social Action (CASA), Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, and the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). He has participated in multiple electoral and political campaigns throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan region, which have resulted in the election of many public officials, both Latino and non-Latino. His most prominent and recent activities in the region were the historic immigrants’ rights marches and economic boycotts.

ORIGIN OF THE CHARGES

The origin of the charges against Nativo Lopez stemmed from an internal dispute within the Green Party Los Angeles County Council. Old guard conservative leadership led by Michael Feinstein lost their power sway to a reform slate, which came to prominence in the primary elections of June 2006. Lopez represented the Senate District 22 as a county party delegate, encompassing the cities of Boyle Heights, Maywood, and parts of the city of Los Angeles, and immediately became a target of harassment, surveillance, and spying by the Feinstein faction.

Feinstein’s group refused to concede the reins of leadership to the reformers and launched attacks against a number of its leaders, including Lopez.

Court documents revealed that the source of the original complaint to the California Secretary of State’s Office, and subsequently to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, was the Feinstein cohorts. This party faction worked with state and county police agencies to run Lopez out of the Green Party. Lopez actually ceased any party activities in 2008 after concluding with other party activists that this party could not be a viable alternative to disaffected Democratic and independent Latino voters. State and county detectives and investigators conducted surveillance against Lopez in 2008 and 2009, with the connivance and cooperation of the Feinstein faction, prior to filing the criminal charges in June 2009. “Feinstein and his allies were not interested in a darker hue of green for the Green Party by way of recruiting thousands of new adherents of color to the party as we had intended and repeatedly proposed,” stated Lopez. “And the party has remained a miniature cult under the control of white party activists in the face of a colored tsunami of demographic shift throughout California, but especially in the Los Angeles metropolitan region,” he concluded.

ONLY REGRETS

At the conclusion of the case, Lopez expressed that, “I only regret that we did not have the opportunity to challenge the manner in which the county grand jury is convened by the district attorney’s office, which truly does not reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the surrounding community of Los Angeles – of the accused; and that we were not permitted the time to challenge the selective prosecution trajectory of the D.A.’s office over the years, which has been oriented against persons of color.”

He also expressed his deep gratitude to the many people that stood by him on some fifteen court appearances, and contributed to his defense, especially the hard-working immigrant workers who took days off from work to accompany him to the court.

*Reproduction of this article is permitted. Please credit the author.

calvoalexis@ymail.com

13-29

To Will or Not To Will…

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

A few weeks ago I was approached by a client who stepped in to discuss his estate plan. He began the meeting by telling me he wanted to create a Shariah compliant Will that will ensure his assets are distributed pursuant to the terms given to us by Allah s.w.t. Before proceeding with his demands, I asked him if he was fully aware of the benefits of creating a Will and whether he knew he had other options.

This scenario is all-too-common. Under the right circumstances, there is nothing wrong with drafting a Will as part of your Estate Plan, however, prior to taking any steps, it is important to be informed on what you are drafting and why.

A Last Will and Testament is very commonly used, but many are not sure what it exactly entails. Although it is very easy to draft a will, be sure to consult with an Attorney on the benefits and drawbacks of actually having one.

Prior to any plan it is always important to know why you should even have one. For any Muslim, having an estate plan is not discretionary, but rather mandatory. Narrated by Ibn Umar, Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: “It is not right for any Muslim person who has something to bequeath to stay for two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.”

The following are certain factors, or facts, that should be considered when drafting a will.

1. Every Will must go through Probate: Probate is a court system that determines the validity of your will and helps facilitate in the process of distributing your assets. Note:  assets cannot be distributed until this process has completed. On average, the entire probate process can take between four-to-six months. 

2. Costs: Here is a very common misconception concerning a Will. “I got a Will because it is cheaper than a Trust.” Do not fall into the trap of thinking a Will is the best estate planning tool just because it is the cheapest. I have heard many clients proudly claim they created their Will for free online. But what they don’t realize are the costs that are associated with the Will after they die. Probate costs are not cheap. On average the entire probate process can cost between 3-5% of your estate.

It is important to realize that when discussing your estate planning options, it should not be dependent on how much you pay today, but rather how much your estate will pay at the end.

3. Public Information: Depending on how much value you place on privacy, the administration of a Will provides you with none. Once your Will is filed with the court, it becomes accessible to the general public.

These are some of the issues that you should consider when contemplating your estate plan. Fortunately, there are other options available for you to consider that can be cheaper and more effective. That is why it is important to speak with an Attorney to discuss your options and more importantly to discuss the options on how best to effectuate the distribution requirements pursuant to Shariah law. With the proper planning, you will have set up the best method that suits your individual needs, saves you money, and satisfies the requirements of Allah (s.w.t.)

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

13-28

SPECIAL REPORT-In $22 Billion Saudi Family Feud, Who Knew What?

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Reuters

Diversification

Glenn Stewart, an American banker who was hired by al-Sanea in 1989, says diversification led to rapid growth of the Algosaibi business, and a need for new funds.

At Algosaibi Investment Holdings in Bahrain, Stewart said he was given the task of raising $100 million in credit facilities from Islamic banks for the Algosaibi partnership as the family added canning factories to its bottling plant, and bought land.

This was a far cry from Stewart’s days at Oxford University, where he directed actor Rowan Atkinson, who would win fame as Blackadder and Mister Bean.

“I wanted to work in the Middle East. I wanted to have some adventures,” Stewart said in his deep baritone during one of three long interviews.

The business grew rapidly for a decade.

Then came the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. America clamped down on money exchanges in Saudi Arabia — unregulated businesses it feared could be used as a source of funding for terrorist groups. Stewart said the Algosaibis worried they might have to amalgamate their exchange with those of other families.

As a possible way out, they applied for a licence to operate as a bank in Bahrain, he said. When they won approval in 2002, they set up The International Banking Corporation (TIBC), which Stewart headed “from day one”.

The Algosaibis contest the view that they were involved in TIBC. “It is false that the family had sought to set up or operate a Bahraini bank. The documents do not support it,” a spokesman for the family said. The family “had absolutely zero involvement in the running of the bank or in meeting with regulators.”

Again according to Stewart, Bahrain-based TIBC could not lend money there, so its customers came through the Money Exchange in Al-Khobar.

“The Money Exchange was responsible for dispersing advances to the customers and for collecting interest,” Stewart said.

While Stewart ultimately reported directly to Al-Sanea, the working relationship between the two men — based at different ends of the bridge that connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia — remained very much at arm’s length.

“As a non-family member you didn’t have any rights. If you questioned their business decisions you just ended up with them jumping down your throat,” Stewart told Reuters.

Invisible Customers

One man who did question the family was English banker Mark Hayley. He was the general manager at the Money Exchange for more than a decade until 2009. His testimony in the Caymans court is a pivotal building block in the Algosaibi argument.

Hayley, now 60, said the Money Exchange did not appear to have any customers. “Any borrowing was to service existing debt and to fund the Saad Group. Nor did the Money Exchange have any significant business lending to customers,” he said in a 2010 affidavit to the Cayman court.

“The Money Exchange does not possess any customer details, contact information or any other information which would normally be contained on a customer file.”
There was also the matter of a forged letter.

Hayley, who now lives in Britain and refused to talk to Reuters, told the Caymans court that in the early 2000s, he returned from a holiday to find a letter on his desk that used his signature but that had been written when he was still away.

“I telephoned Mr al-Sanea’s switchboard and someone put me through to him. I was so angry that I yelled at him. This was the first time I had raised my voice to him, but I was incensed,” Hayley told the court.

“Mr al-Sanea tried to placate me. He subsequently told me that (al-Sanea’s personal assistant) Mr Sohail had forged my signature and … would be fined one month’s salary.”

Credit Crunch

It was the credit crunch which triggered the unravelling of al-Sanea’s empire. TIBC raised its funds against its loan book. Most of its money came through interest-rate swaps and foreign exchange and Islamic finance deals.

This was a risky way to run a bank. Like Lehman Brothers, TIBC needed to constantly roll over short-term maturities. When banks stopped lending, the game was up. In May 2009, TIBC defaulted on a foreign exchange deal with Deutsche Bank.

The bank was put in administration, as was Awal bank, the separate company owned by Maan al-Sanea. It was then that the scale of the losses became clear for the first time. Administrators put the amount owed to the banks at $22 billion.

The Algosaibi family claimed they had no knowledge of the foreign exchange transactions, and didn’t even know that TIBC existed. Al-Sanea, they alleged, had stolen billions of dollars and put it into his own Saad Investment Co Ltd (SICL).

BLAME GAME The two years since have spawned a series of lawsuits around the world. Besides the cases in London and the Cayman Islands, legal proceedings are taking place in New York, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Geneva. The Algosaibis have also sued Glenn Stewart in Los Angeles, where they describe him as the main architect of al-Sanea’s fraud. “TIBC was a sham bank and had no real customers,” they say in their claim.

Stewart denies those charges and says the banks who loaned TIBC money were all told where it was going, into real estate, hedge funds and into bank shares, and were given counter-guarantees.
“I certainly refute any allegations in that regard. We had no control over any money or assets of the bank and we had no discretionary power to do anything,” Stewart said.

Stewart ignored orders to stay in Bahrain and fled after the collapse of TIBC and Awal. In March, the Bahrain public prosecutor charged him, Al-Sanea and others for breaches of the country’s commercial companies law.

The chief operating officer of Awal bank, 63-year old Tony James, was one of those held in the country, only allowed to leave just before last Christmas, following diplomatic pressure from the UK.

The bankers who were detained have filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council & Treaties Division and are also suing a UK private detective firm for defamation, over a report it wrote for the Central Bank of Bahrain, and which became public in court proceedings.

They suspect the hand of the Algosaibis.

“The Bahrain authorities, and in particular the (Central Bank) have been complicit in permitting the mechanisms of the state to be used to further the private political ends of a powerful family,” they say in a UN complaint.

13-26

Egypt’s Mubarak Set to Go on Trial August 3

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dina Zayed

2011-05-27T143917Z_1705055056_GM1E75R1QWY01_RTRMADP_3_EGYPT

A man sits at his shoe-shine stall as his sleeping child (R) is covered with the Egyptian national flag at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 27, 2011. Thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir square on Friday in what organisers called a "second revolution" to push for deeper reforms and a speedy trial for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his former aides.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

CAIRO (Reuters) – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, overthrown by a popular uprising this year, was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial in August for the killing of protesters on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Mubarak, ousted on February 11 after mass protests demanding an end to his 30 years in power, has been questioned about his role in a crackdown in which more than 840 demonstrators died, as well as about alleged corruption.

He could face the death penalty if convicted on the charge of “pre-meditated killing.”

His two sons, Gamal, who was once viewed as being groomed for the presidency, and Alaa, will also stand trial alongside their father and prominent business executive Hussein Salem.
Judge Sayed Abdel-Azim, the head of the appeals court, said the trial would open on August 3 in a Cairo criminal court.

Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday that Mubarak was in no condition to be transferred to a prison hospital and would for now stay in a health facility in a Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been detained since mid-April.

Mubarak was admitted to hospital after reportedly suffering heart problems during his initial questioning.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States hoped Egypt would ensure due process for Mubarak, who was long a close Arab ally of Washington.

While emphasizing that it was up to the Egyptians to decide whether to prosecute Mubarak, she said any trial should be conducted to the highest standard. “Obviously we want to see the rule of law,” she told reporters.

Mubarak’s alleged crimes listed by the prosecutor include pre-meditated murder, abuse of influence, wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains.
His sons and other former top officials are being held in Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo.

(Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Alistair Lyon)

13-23

Why You Need a Durable General Power of Attorney

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

What happens to your finances when you are mentally incompetent to handle them yourself?  Without proper planning, it is likely that the court will appoint someone, who does not necessarily have your best interests in mind, to make financial decisions for you.  In such situations, as unfortunate as it is, it is becoming more and more common for people to be taken advantage of.  Therefore, it is increasingly important to draft a Durable General Power of Attorney (POA). 

A Durable POA is a legal document that allows you to name an individual that will make financial (and other important) decisions on your behalf should you one day become incapacitated. Your selected POA will be legally bound to act on your behalf with your best interests in mind as if you yourself were making the decisions. 

In Michigan there are two types of Durable POAs: Springing and Immediate. A Springing POA, which is more commonly used, comes into effect when two doctors draft separate letters indicating that you are no longer competent to make your own decisions. Once these letters are received, only then does the POA have authority to control your finances.
In contrast, an Immediate POA is established as soon as the documents are signed; therefore, there is no requirement of obtaining the letters from the doctor. It is very common for people to begin with a springing POA, and then once they reach a certain age, they make the change to an immediate POA, thus avoiding the headache of having to obtain the doctors’ letters.

Although a POA is vital to any estate plan, it is equally important to think carefully about who you appoint as your POA. Remember, you are appointing someone who will act and make decisions on your behalf; therefore, it is imperative that this individual is someone you completely trust because they will be the ones who will have access to your bank accounts, investments, stocks, mutual funds, and even real estate property. Make sure when you sit down with your attorney that you seek their advice on who you should appoint because sometimes family members, although loved, are not always the best option.  

In the event you are declared incompetent, and you have failed to draft a POA, then your family members will be left with the burden of asking the court to appoint a guardian. This process will be stressful and time consuming and the costs will be unnecessarily burdensome. However, with a little bit of planning you can ensure that your family members will not only avoid the courts, but more importantly you will have selected a trust-worthy individual to control your finances. So take those steps to ensure that your money is being managed by the person you trust.

Next week’s topic: Medical Power of Attorney

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, Physician Contracts, and Family Law. To contact him for any questions related to this article or other areas of law, he can be reached at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

13-19

Advani & Modi Face Legal Scanner

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS

NEW DELHI:  Ironically, two dark communal spots on India’s global image have hit headlines nearly at the same time and in a similar pattern. One refers to demolition of Babari Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh on December 6, 1992, which was followed by nation-wide riots targeting Muslims. The other is the 2002-Gujarat carnage, when thousands of Muslims were attacked and killed in Gujarat by violent mobs of Hindu extremists. Legal cycle has cast shadows on the role played by two key politicians of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in both the cases. L.K. Advani is under scanner for having incited mobs for demolition of Babari Masjid. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been questioned for nearly 10 hours for his role in 2002-carnage (March 27).

Legal and political questions holding Advani responsible for the Ayodhya-issue and Modi for Gujarat-carnage may have still remained under the wraps, were it not for the role played by several women. Yes, the Ayodhya-ghost has raised its head again to haunt Advani primarily because of the detailed testimony given by a senior lady officer, Anju Gupta before a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh (March 26). Modi was summoned by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, following a petition filed by Zakia Jaffrey. Zakia’s husband, Ehsan Jaffrey (former legislator) was among more than 50 people burnt to death in the Gulbarga Society massacre of February 28, 2002.

In her petition, Zakia alleged that Modi, his government and administration had helped rioters during the Gujarat-carnage. She is still hopeful of the guilty being punished. On Modi being summoned by SIT, Zakia said: “I expect justice from God and Supreme Court, because it won’t let injustice happen. Since, it is Supreme Court it has been doing justice for years. I’m sure that the Supreme Court will deliver justice.”

By finally appearing before the SIT, Modi has defied speculations being circulated about his trying to escape law. He may have to appear before SIT again and also before the Supreme Court, as the case is pending there, sources said. To a degree, while Modi has silenced his critics he has provided his political colleagues some reason to express appreciation for his appearing before SIT and face such a long question-answer session. Of course, what Modi has faced before SIT is no match for what thousands of Muslims across Gujarat went through for several months in 2002. Just as the dead cannot be brought back to life, the wounds left by that carnage cannot be healed by whatever amount of compensation is handed over to survivors and even if Modi faces grilling sessions for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, that Modi finally faced the SIT certainly indicates that he has been to a degree forced to bow before the Indian legal process, primarily as the widow of one of the victims decided to knock at the doors of justice. 

Ironically, though there never has been any doubt about Advani’s role in Ayodhya-case and that of Modi in Gujarat-carnage, till date both have appeared to remain almost unapproachable even for the long arms of law and justice. The SIT summons has broken this myth for Modi just as that of Anju Gupta’s testimony for Advani. Earlier, Advani had been discharged on the plea that charges against him were based on mere suspicion. Anju’s testimony has totally changed the legal situation. She was then posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in Ayodhya and was in charge of Advani’s security.

During her testimony, Anju claimed that Advani “looked euphoric” as he declared in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 that a temple would be built at the site of the demolished mosque. “Advani not only looked euphoric but also declared before the huge crowds at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 that the Ram temple would be built at the disputed site in the temple town,” she said. He “gave quite a provocative speech for which he was applauded by his other party colleagues and the crowds,” she said. Recalling what she saw on the day, Anju said: “There were at least 100 persons present on the dais along with Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara, Ashok Singhal, S.C. Dikshit, and I remember their faces so distinctly that I would be able to still recognize at least 80 of them.” “There was so much excitement among the crowds that they distributed sweets after the mosque was pulled down,” she said.

Undeniably, neither the Ayodhya-case nor the Gujarat-carnage can be expected to conclude soon. It may take a fairly long time, before the hearings, counter-hearings, arguments and related processes reach the stage of judgments being pronounced. The final stage, if ever reached, may still be checked by filing of more petitions, special petitions and so forth. Nevertheless, at least, BJP leaders are finally forced to acknowledge and accept that they cannot escape law forever: -17 years have passed since the demolition and eight since Gujarat-carnage. The ones responsible for those communal phases have been forced to be on the defensive, though late but definitely! 

12-14

Thoughts on Aafia Siddiqui’s Conviction

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Barrister Jafree’s Open Letter

By Barrister Jafree

I have been dismayed to read the article by Ms.  Rafia Zakaria  from Ohio (otherwise, one of the very few Indic-diaspora lawyer-columnists I have admired and praised) in the Dawn [February 17]. Since July 2008 I had kept her informed about the suffering, dilemmas and predicaments of Dr. Aafia  Siddiqui who was actually brutally kidnapped and ruthlessly-illegally Renditioned (along with her three perfectly innocent infant children) from  Karachi (she was proceeding by taxi to the Saddar  Railway Station on way to Islamabad due to horrendous harassment/ untold persecution from  her former husband as well as  the CIA functionaries and indigenous Khufia, and in the capitol-city of Pakistan she intended to take up employment at The Al-Shifa Hospital, and raise her three children) in 2003; and not arrested from Ghazni in 2008 as has been scurrilously and systemically  claimed by CIA/FBI functionaries and aficionados/bounty-hunters.

Aafia’s  helpless family consists of an elder  sister, a brother, and an old, God-fearing  mother. For six calendar years the  unfortunate, law-abiding Family  could not  even have a First Information Report  (F.I.R.) registered because of the Outreach and overreaction of the Powers That Be (read Unjustified Enrichment wonderboys) in Pakistan.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

Finally, only late in 2009 a wishy-washy FIR was registered (without mentioning who  had kidnapped Aafia and under whose patronage/sponsorship). That FIR  is being investigated ahista-ahista by SSP Investigator Alhajj Niaz Khosa of Karachi while water has virtually crossed over the heads. This is no cause for applause except for the  Made-in-America Military Industrial Complex!

Mid-July 2008 while  visiting Islamabad  (in connection with my Habeas Writs regarding outrageously wrongful confinement of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan by General Pervez Musharraf) I was shocked to learn from a mysterious,trembling  phonecall  that Aafia was being detained/abused  in a dungeon jail in Kabul (“and was likely to be shot dead”). Immediately I made the best inquiries I could muster, and  I filed a hand-written  Writ Habeas Corpus in the Islamabad High Court . I did, for example,  ask U.S. Ambassador , Miss Ann Patterson if she denied that the Embassy remained  curiously (and coyly/smugly)  silent so did our  then Interior Secretary, Alhaj Syed Kamal Shah (who was Inspector General of Sindh in 2003). and our Minitry of Law, Justice  and Human Rights. Such silence (indifference+apathy) is deafening, disgraceful and dreadful nonsense of arrogance. 

Concerning my Habeas Writs, the Interior/ Foreign Affairs Ministries and Attorneys-General for Pakistan, (Qayyum and Khosa) wasted time of the Court and showed no concern for a fellow-citizen and human being. I made desperate efforts that the Attorney-General for Pakistan write a letter to United States District Judge Richard Berman (copying it to the United States Attorney  in New York, 20005) that Aafia was illicitly kidnapped from Karachi in 2003. This was not done, sinisterly so,  in spite of  helpful directions from the Lahore High Court which have been openly flouted.

The reprehensible maltreatment of Aafia is a felony of  designer Bait ‘N Switch. The most pressing question here  is  simply not  concerning what is happening  (regretably so!) in Pakistan to other oppressed women and repressed men.  More immediately relevant is the fact that Rafia Zakaria who is on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union never protested the gravely  ill-treatment that has been accorded to Aafia who was transferred without any cause or judicial/extradition proceeding to the Death-penalty jurisdiction of New York.

The Afghan Government as well as the United States Officialdom violated, inter alia, the Geneva/Vienna Conventions and Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Pakistan and USA [1959] by not immediately  informing Pakistan Embassy in Kabul (his would have been the case had she been arrested  actually in Ghazni); rather the  Pakistani Embassy in Washington was intimated MUCH  AFTER  my Writ and  only after Aafia had been cruelly lodged in  a New York’s Brooklyn  Detention Center where she has been  violated, physically harmed and variously humiliated and is being  grossly inhumanly maltreated.  Her son, Ahmed has told our illustrious  Interior Minister (Government of Pakistan)  that he never saw nor encountered  his mother after being grabbed and separated from his nuclear family in 2003. in  Karachi. This should make some lice to crawl over the ears of our Establishment! 

I do ask why is  Miss Rafia Zakaria silent about the violence and inhumanity accorded by   the U.S. officialdom to Aafia within United States of America itself. The truth of the matter is that CIA needed some highly-educated person to  ‘credibly’ blame for  the consequences of 9-11; they catapulted  (and are victimizing) America-educated Aafia to fit that  Negative Sum Mentality Purpose. Then, to add/ ‘justify’ insidious  insult to injury (to Aafia as well as  the Occidental image of Islam)  finding no evidence for six  long years  artfully arranged  A-to-Z,

Aafia’s predetermined trial in God-forsaken New York where no civilized country even allows proper Extradition. This is  a crying shame! Aafia was regretably denied  threshold access to  even choose her own lawyers or defend herself of her own. This mischievous misconduct offends all notions of process that was due  and is now Overdue!!
By the way, Dr Aafia Siddiqui never re-married anyone as was wrongfully touted and spinned globally  by FBI. Aafia is victim of that fascist syndromme: “Call a person a dog and then shoot her” . The Neo-Improvisation and Restatement of that Syndrome is that before-predetermined-shooting-an-innocent-lady – – just  have three or four  heavy-weight American soldiers  falsely claim that the chosen victim-to-be-blamed shot at them first by grabbing their gun which was lying on the floor of their overseas dungeon. As a former Assistant Attorney-General in the USA, I know that laying-down the heavy-gun on the floor is never  dared and never done in  suchlike circumstances. Additionally,  no DNA or other physical evidence was discovered to that  alleged-effect. The Jury returned the verdict of “Guilty” based on verbal evidence of Aafia versus four  bought (and brought) witnesses. Law will accept the impossible but not the improbable and unreasonable. Let us not be somnobulant about that.  I spent quater of a century in the USA learning and not-earning dollars.

In a nutshell,  I must  respectfully and  conscientiously ask American bureaucrats  that they should stop maltreating minorities and try to understand Islam in the proper light so that past wrongs and blunders can be rectified and only thus the Day Shall Dawn.

It is a long shot! But where there is will there is a way.

Yours sincerely,

SYED MOHAMMED JAWAID IQBAL JAFREE OF PACIFIC PASLISADES,

MA Illinois LLM Harvard PhD Read  FRSA London  SASC PC, ATTORNEY AT LAW, ADMITTED IN PAKISTAN AND USA

12-9

Taliban to Execute US Soldier if Aafia Not Released

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mushtaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday demanded the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who has been convicted by the US court on charges of her alleged attempt to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan, and threatened to execute an American soldier they were holding currently. They claimed Aafia Siddiqui’s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.

“Being Muslims, it becomes our religious and moral obligation to help the distressed Pakistani woman convicted by the US court on false charges,” said a senior Afghan Taliban commander. The commander, whose militant network is holding the US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, called The News from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan and threatened to execute the American trooper if their demand was not met. He claimed AafiaSiddiqui’s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.

“We tried our best to make the family understand that our role may create more troubles for the hapless woman, who was already in trouble. On their persistent requests, we have now decided to include Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s name in the list of our prisoners in US custody that we delivered to Americans in Afghanistan for swap of their soldier in our custody,” explained the militant commander.

He claimed family members of Dr Aafia told the Taliban leadership that they had lost all hopes in the Pakistan government and now Allah Almighty and the Taliban were their only hope. Later, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also called The News from somewhere in Afghanistan and owned a statement given by the Taliban commander.

The militant commander alleged that the US soldier, whom his fighters kidnapped from Afghanistan’s Paktika province near the border with Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan in June 2009, had admitted his involvement in several raids in Afghanistan. “Since he has confessed to all charges against him, our Islamic court had announced death sentence for him,” the Taliban leader claimed.

The same Taliban faction released a video of the captive US soldier on Christmas Day. Taliban said they had been shifting the soldier all the time due to the search operations by the US and Afghan forces. He said the only way Americans could save life of their soldier was to release 21 Afghan prisoners and the “innocent” Pakistani lady.

Most of their prisoners, he claimed, were being held at the Guantanamo prison. “We believe that like the Israelis, the Americans would be ready soon to do any deal for taking possession of the remains of their soldier, but it would be late by then,” he stressed. Dr Aafia’s family could not be approached for comments on the Taliban claim.

12-7

Hearing Adjourned in Dr Aafia Case

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Daily Times, Pakistan

LAHORE: Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has postponed until January 5 the hearing of a contempt petition against the government for not approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the US custody.

The judge on December 10 had directed a deputy attorney general (DAG) to inform the court about the consequences of moving the ICJ for Dr Aafia’s release from the United States’ authorities, but the DAG did not appear in court on Monday.

Barrister Iqbal Jaffrey, counsel for Dr Aafia, has filed the petition. He submitted that the court had earlier directed the government to secure the release and repatriation of Dr Aafia within 30 days, but it had failed to comply with the court’s orders.

The counsel submitted that the court had also directed the government to move the ICJ for the release of Dr Aafia, but no action had been taken in this regard.
He said the government had allocated a substantial sum of money for pursuing the case, but did not spend a small amount to take up the matter with the ICJ.
He requested the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents for defying court orders.

Dr Aafia was abducted from Karachi on March 30, 2003 and was taken to Afghanistan. Later, she was shifted to the US for allegedly attempting to kill two American investigators.

Two of her US national children are reportedly missing since her abduction while the Interior Ministry has handed over one of her children, a boy, to her sister.

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Salim Fights For Beard & Wins

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, Muslim Media News Service, MMNS

NEW DELHI: Mohammed Salim, a class ten student must be fairly pleased at the apex court finally supporting his decision to keep a beard. He was expelled last year from Nirmala Convent High School, Vidisha district, Madhya Pradesh for refusing to shave on religious ground. Describing the school’s decision to expel him for sporting a beard as “ridiculous,” a bench of Justices B.N. Aggrawal and G.S. Singhvi said: “Merely because you have a beard, they removed you? So if you are a Sikh, you will not be able to sport a beard. Tomorrow they will say you are not fair complexioned. Nowadays, it has become a fashion for some people to pierce their ears for putting the ring. So such persons will not be allowed to study. Prima facie, it’s ridiculous,” (September 11).

Salim is probably not the only Muslim boy who has faced discrimination at a non-Muslim educational institution. But he is one of the few Muslims to have decided to fight legally for justice in keeping with the fundamental right and duty on religious grounds guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. A major point of his argument was that he was clearly being discriminated against as those belonging to the Sikh community were allowed to keep a beard and sport a turban. If they were being permitted to keep the beard and wear the turban in keeping with religious dictates of Sikhism, why was he–a Muslim-not allowed to sport a beard? Why had he been expelled for refusing to shave on religious grounds?

Supporting Salim’s argument, the apex court bench directed the school to immediately take back the expelled student. Though the verdict has finally gone in his favor, it has not been an easy fight for Salim. He has lost a year in the legal battle. His stand has been: “I will die but not give up my beard. It’s a matter of my faith. Its in my religion.” Now he can go back to school with a beard. Salim plans to resume studies at the same school after Eid.

The ironical twist in Salim’s case stands out in it having been rejected earlier by the apex court. He had appealed in the apex court after the Madhya Pradesh High Court had rejected his plea. Dismissing his petition, Justice Markandeya Katju had made a controversial comment, for which he later apologized. Implying that keeping a beard on religious grounds was equivalent to turning to extremism, Katju had then said: “Talibanization of the country cannot be permitted.” Stating that Salim was expected to follow rules and rights set by the institution, the bench had said: “If there are rules, you have to follow it. You can’t say that I will not wear a uniform and I will wear only a burqa.” “You can join some other institution if you do not want to observe the rules. But you can’t ask the school to change the rules for you,” Katju had said (March 30).

Objecting to Katju’s controversial comments and expressing apprehension over his impartiality, Salim filed a review petition. The order “needs to be reviewed afresh as the core issue of a Muslim’s right to sport a beard as guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution (right to practice and profess one’s religion) was violated by the school,” Salim said.

Justices R.V. Raveendran and Katju withdrew the March 30 order on July 6. They requested that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and be posted before another bench. Katju also apologized for his remarks on linking the beard with Talibanization. Salim’s Special Leave Petition was taken up formally last week by bench of Justices Aggrawal and Singhvi.

Undeniably, credit must be given to Salim and those who have supported him for pursuing their point even after it seemed that the apex court had turned down their appeal. Senior advocate B.A. Khan, appearing for Salim, had argued that his expulsion from school for keeping beard was against “his religious conscience, belief and custom of his family.” As per Article 25 of the Constitution, Salim had the right to pursue his religious practice of keeping a beard, Khan said. He described the regulation for shaving it as violative of the provision guaranteed by the Constitution.

In addition to complimenting the apex court for finally viewing Salim’s case, objectively and impartially, appreciation must be voiced for him and his supporters for not letting their stand on religious right get defeated by those who linked a Muslim’s beard with terrorism. True, all Muslim and Sikh males do not sport beards. But the decision to do so is based on their religious perceptions. Certainly, this does not imply that anyone who keeps a beard should be viewed as a “terrorist.” After all, even British writer Salman Rushdie has a beard, so does the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Salim’s case serves as an eye-opener to another hard reality. It still remains a taxing task for ordinary, religious Indian Muslims to convince even the elite Indian class that it is time the latter stopped viewing their beliefs and practices (including the beard) with a tainted approach. What is held as religious should not from any angle be linked with terrorism!

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Saudi Arabia to Fast Saturday, August 22, 2009 (A.H. 1430)

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Saudi Press Agency issued a pronouncement by the Saudi Royal Court, saying the Saudi Supreme Court announced that Saturday will be the first day of Ramadan 1430 H.

The royal court said the Supreme Court made the announcement after a special meeting this evening in Taif.

 

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Contrast: Fate of Malegaon Accused & Batla House “Encounter”

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Indian secularism is once again facing the test of whether there prevails a tainted approach in holding Muslims as “suspect” terrorists and sparing the majority from facing stringent anti-terrorist laws the former are subject to. Within less than a year of 11 being accused under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Act (MCOCA) for the 2008 Malegaon bomb case, a special court in Mumbai has decided to drop the stringent law against them. The accused include Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit. The court decided to drop provisions of MCOCA as there did not prevail substantial evidence against them (August 7).

Claiming that the state government would not remain quiet over the special court’s decision and would challenge it in the Supreme Court, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said: “We would initiate MCOCA against those involved in terrorist activities irrespective of caste and religion of the accused.” Irrespective of whether MCOCA is slapped again against the 11 accused, what stands out is that law is being allowed to take its own course. The burning question is, whether the law is being followed because the accused belong to the majority community. Why isn’t the same approach displayed in lifting stringent laws against Muslims still languishing behind bars, quite a few of whom have not even been given adequate chance to prove their innocence?

One may refer to last year’s Batla House (fake) encounter, in which two Muslims – Atif Amin and Mohd. Sajid were killed (September 19) as “suspect terrorists.” Mohd. Saif and Zeeshan were arrested as “suspect terrorists.” Till date, details have not been made public as to what was the “substantial evidence” that led to the killing of two and arrest of other two. What is more stunning that the two killed were not even given a chance to prove their innocence. It would have been a different case altogether had they been arrested and/or killed while they were in the process of triggering of some militant activity. They were killed and arrested from the place where they were residing at in Batla House. If the law can be allowed to take its own course, as indicated by action initiated against those accused of Malegaon blasts, why has not same approach been displayed towards the ones targeted in Batla House “encounter?” Is it because the Malegaon-accused belong to the majority community and in the Batla House case to the minority?

The ironical difference in the two cases stands reflected markedly in the approach of the near and dear ones of the ones accused in the Malegaon-case and the Batla House encounter. It was party time for members of Sadhvi’s family who distributed sweets after MCOCA was dropped against her. Her father, C.P. Thakur said: “I was confident that my daughter is innocent and had faith in judiciary. It was an attempt by the police to frame her and this is just the beginning. She will come out clean in the end.” With MCOCA dropped, it will be easier for Sadhvi and other 10 to secure bail.

Welcoming the court’s decision, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “We welcome dropping of charges under MCOCA against Malegaon blast accused by Mumbai special court. With this the diversionary and fictional myth about Hindu terror has been smashed. It has been proven false.”

Rudy has a point. So do those who are of the opinion that Muslims arrested and/or killed as “suspect terrorists” are innocent and have been deliberately framed without being given opportunity to argue their case legally. Sajid’s father, Ansarul Hasan has not given up option of approaching the courts for justice. The process will not bring back his son, killed last year in Batla House “encounter” to life but at least it will enlighten others on whether to trust the Indian legal process when Muslims are shot dead only because they are “suspected” to be terrorists.

In a letter addressed to Chief Justice, Hassan pleaded that his son Sajid was innocent and an FIR be filed against the police personnel responsible for killing him. Hassan sought the court’s intervention as the police refused to register a case against its personnel involved in the encounter. Hassan also claimed that even the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had refused to entertain his plea. Hassan’s letter came a few days after NHRC gave a clean chit to role of Delhi police in Batla House encounter. The report, released last month, claims that there was “no human rights violation by police in Batla House encounter.” The NHRC report has, however, been strongly criticized by social activists, civil rights groups and Muslim leaders, according to whom, it is based only on the police version of the “encounter.”

Against these odds, it is commendable that at least the Delhi High Court has not ignored Hassan’s letter. The matter has been posted for August 18, when the court would hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking independent inquiry in the Batla House case. One is nevertheless compelled to deliberate on the difference in legal trial having becoming easier for Malegaon-accused, while it remains arduous for relatives and supporters of those killed and arrested in Batla House “encounter.” Should the difference in the legal course of both cases be linked with religious identities of the accused? The answer, yet to be decided by higher courts, would certainly be a litmus test for whether a biased approach prevails in deciding judicial judgment for suspect terrorists, Hindus as well as Muslims!

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Padilla vs. Yoo: An Update

July 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Jacob G. Hornberger

Editor’s note:  John Yoo is the Bush administration attorney who provided the fundamental intellectual basis for the torture programs of the Bush administration.  Because of his memos the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory, were not applied to prisoners captured after 9/11.  Because of Yoo’s work, nor were those prisoners able to avail themselves of the benefits of American law.  Because of the Orwellian legal procedures the Yoo doctrine attempted to justify, Guantanamo legal proceedings became absolute disgraces to the American system of law–in fact, even communist courts would have been disgraced by the nonsense that passed for legal proceedings under Bush, Cheney, and Yoo–defendants were prevented from hearing the very grounds for their own imprisonment, because such grounds were “classified.” 

Because of Yoo’s memos, those prisoners were subjected deliberately to whatever cruel and unusual punishments Mr. Yoo and his cohorts were able to conjure up–Mr. Yoo argued that all of this was acceptable. 

The continued prominence of Mr. Yoo is convincing evidence that in fact there is no rule of law in the United States, that the constitution is now trampled upon, controlled by the highest bidders and the cheapest arguments of dictators and totalitarian scum, it was the unwilling witness of the heroically despotic abuses committed underneath it by Yoo and his ilk.  We hope that it faces a more dignified future under the watchful eyes of people who are more than mere parrots to repeat the protections it offers while simultaneously eviscerating its meaning, unconscious of the blood on their hands and the screams of those they oppress while mouthing the multisyllabic shibboleths of Constitutional freedoms.

There are two interesting developments in Jose Padilla’s lawsuit against former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, who was one of the authors of the infamous torture memos.

First, the Justice Department is no longer defending Yoo in the case. He will now be represented by a private attorney, paid for by the Justice Department.

Second, Yoo is appealing the ruling of the federal district court denying his motion to dismiss Padilla’s case.
A motion to dismiss requests the court to summarily dismiss the plaintiff’s case without hearing any evidence. The motion essentially says: “Even if you accept as true everything the plaintiff is saying in his petition, he is not entitled to win as a matter of law.”
Generally, courts are loath to summarily dismiss cases brought by litigants. The general rule is that everyone is entitled to the opportunity to prove his case.
Thus, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court will accept as true everything that is stated in the plaintiff’s petition. If such facts, if later proved, can support a legal case against the defendant, the court will deny the motion to dismiss.
Can a defendant appeal a motion to dismiss? The general rule is no because the courts frown on interlocutory appeals, that is, appeals that are taken before a case has been finally resolved. Since a denial of a motion to dismiss is not a final resolution of the case (because the case is allowed to continue forward), the general rule is that an appeal cannot be taken from it.
So, why would Yoo be taking an appeal at this stage? My hunch is that he, along with a lot of other people in the Bush administration, are panicked over the judge’s ruling and are now looking for every way possible to delay the continuation of the suit.
Why? Because Padilla’s lawsuit provides the means by which Yoo and other Bush administration people can be forced to testify under oath in a federal court proceeding as to exactly what went on in the so-called war on terror.
Except for Padilla’s case, giving sworn testimony is something the Bush people could easily succeed in avoiding, given congressional apathy toward an official investigation and executive branch opposition to criminal prosecutions.
Why is Padilla’s lawsuit important? Because the ultimate ruling in the case will apply not just to him but also to all Americans. The suit alleges that the U.S. government took Padilla into custody and held him for several years without charge, until finally indicting him and convicting him in federal district court of the federal crime of terrorism. For years prior to the indictment, Padilla was held in the custody of the U.S. military, where he was denied right to counsel, the right to due process of law, the right to bail, the right to a speedy trial, the right to a jury trial, and other procedural protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. He was also subjected to torture, sensory deprivation, isolation, sleep deprivation, and many other cruel and unusual pre-trial measures.
The government takes the position that it had the legitimate authority to do these things to Padilla and that it, in fact, has the legitimate authority to do them to every other American, as part of its “war on terrorism.” Yoo is saying that as a government lawyer who was just delivering legal opinions, he is immune from Padilla’s suit.
The district judge disagreed. He held that the U.S. government lacks constitutional authority to subject the American people to such treatment and that any lawyer who knowingly participates in a scheme to subject Americans to such mistreatment is not immune from suit.
Given the predilection of the courts against interlocutory appeals, in my opinion the Court of Appeals will quickly rule against Yoo’s appeal, enabling Padilla to continue with his case and begin taking sworn depositions. That will be when things start to get interesting.

Iran Summons German Envoy for ‘Veil Martyr’

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Flag-Pins-Iran-Germany

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the German Ambassador to Tehran over the brutal murder of a Muslim Egyptian woman in a Dresden court.

Herbert Honsowitz was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry to hear the strong objection of the Islamic Republic to the brutal murder of Marwa el-Sherbini.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi on Thursday condemned el-Sherbini’s murder as a despicable act in violation of “all human rights and values.”

El-Sherbini, dubbed the “veil martyr,” was involved in a court case against her neighbor, Axel W., who was found guilty last November of insulting and abusing the woman, calling her a “terrorist.”

She was set to testify against Axel W. when he stabbed her 18 times inside the Dresden court in front of her 3-year-old son.

El-Sherbini’s husband, Elvi Ali Okaz, came to her aid but was also stabbed by the neighbor and shot in the leg by a security guard who initially mistook him for the attacker, German prosecutors said. He is now in critical condition in a German hospital.

Pointing to the German government’s delayed response to the incident, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that it was Berlin’s responsibility to ensure the rights and security of minorities, especially Muslims, living in Germany.

The Muslim population of Dresden condemned el-Sherbini’s killing, expressing concern about the consequences of such terrorist attacks against Muslims.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also blamed Western countries for their “double-standard” and “news boycott” regarding the case.

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A Muslim’s Murder: Double Standards, Crude Generalizations

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Why we must work harder to bridge the gulf between the culture of fear and the culture of humiliation

By Sheema Khan

The stabbing death of Marwa al-Sherbini in a German courtroom will have ramifications in the months to come. Already, there is palpable anger in Egypt, where she was buried this week. That anger will most likely spread to other parts of the Middle East and South Asia and amongst Europe’s Muslim minorities.

The Egyptian blogosphere is filled with outrage – outrage at the vicious murder of a pregnant woman in a court of law and, most notably, at the lack of attention given to this hate crime by political institutions and European media. Many note the double standard: The ghastly murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam in 2004 was used as a pretext to cast suspicion on Dutch Muslims, whereas Marwa’s murder in Dresden last week is the work of a “lone wolf,” an immigrant from Russia (and thus not “really” German).

The muted reaction to the killing of a woman, in the heart of Europe, for wearing her hijab, also galls. No need to imagine the outrage if a woman is killed for not wearing a hijab – just look to the visceral reaction at the killing of Mississauga teenager Aqsa Parvez in 2007.

And while German authorities investigate whether Marwa’s murder was a hate crime, they might also want to focus on the reaction of court security. As Marwa was being stabbed, her husband tried to intervene. A court officer, apparently assuming the man with the Middle Eastern features to be the attacker, shot Marwa’s husband. He is now in critical condition.

Many do not see Marwa’s fate in isolation. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, in its 2004 annual report, said “Islamophobia continues to manifest itself in different guises. Muslim communities are the target of negative attitudes, and sometimes, violence and harassment. They suffer multiple forms of discrimination, including sometimes from certain public institutions.” The London-based Runnymede Charity, in its 2004 report Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, found that Muslims were seen by Europeans as the “other” and as lacking in values held by Western cultures, that Islam was violent, aggressive and terroristic, and that anti-Muslim hostility was natural or normal.

So, no surprise that European Muslims are increasingly seen as “outsiders,” with a monolithic, rigid culture that’s antithetical to that of Europe. Amidst sagging popularity and a recession, French President Nicolas Sarkozy redirected attention to the burka, saying it’s not welcome in his country. Even Muslims who don’t support the burka felt uncomfortable with Mr. Sarkozy’s spotlight on their community.

And so the double standards abound. As do the crude generalizations. When the perpetrator happens to be a Muslim, reports are sensationalistic, and Muslims, along with their faith, are cast in a negative light. In the Dresden case, the mirror reaction is happening in Egypt: All Germans are somehow complicit in Marwa’s fate. In the wake of horrific violence, the primal instinct is to blame all, to cast suspicion on those we don’t know.

Yet, in the wake of such episodes, we must work even harder to bridge the gulf between what Dominique Moisi calls the culture of fear and the culture of humiliation. Otherwise, the perpetrators of hate will achieve their goal of driving people apart. As Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, wrote: “They try to kill everything in you – initiative, hope, confidence, dialogue. The only way to oppose them is by demonstrating the strength they think they have taken from you. That strength is to keep on living, to keep on valuing life.”

Let’s remember that the enemy is xenophobia, which can metastasize like cancer unless society is on guard against the pernicious tendency to view others as less human. We have seen the ugly spectre of racism at Keswick High School and in Courtenay, B.C. We have our own painful history of wrongs committed against ethnic groups and indigenous communities. Yet, the better part of the human spirit tries to overcome these dark episodes with the light of justice and restitution.

Marwa’s murder cannot be in vain. She took on her perpetrator in a court of law after he called her a terrorist. Some would say she lost. It is up to us to carry on the larger quest of fighting racism and building bridges, so her son – and all children – can grow up without fear and prejudice.

sheema.khan@globeandmail.com

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Plea for Help

May 18, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad ibn Abdullah (s) is his last and final Prophet (s). I greet you in the universal language of peace, Assalaamu Aleikum wa Rahmatullah. I thank you for my subscription to The Muslim Observer newspaper.

Dear editor—I am writing to you in regards to many of the ideologies of prisoners in the state of Illinois.

It seems that the government officials have not made it a goal to habilitate or rehabilitate the prisoners to maintain themselves upon their release and throughout the duration of their stay. I am considered a spiritual leader and upcoming imam in Al-Islam. Unfortunately, the talk of the prisons are violence against America and majority of this comes from non-Muslims.

You can hear the roars of inmate celebration when they hear about terrorist strikes against Americans and how they would like to participate in the terrorist action against America upon their release. The inmates are treated as if they were in Abu Ghraib, and this is dangerous to America, because they have made an enemy within their own states. Many gang members as I used to be as well are ready for war.

Many who stood on their block corners selling drugs and willing to die for their mobs are now trying to join al-Islam and join a different war, but some are learning the wrong interpretation of Islam, which is also dangerous to Muslims. It’s imperative for the new converts to fully understand the true prerequisites of al-Islam, and if not, America is looking for a bigger burden.

This is due to a lack of education, a lack of communication, and a lack of organization. The state will provide Christians and Jewish faiths with special diet, but refuse to accommodate Muslims, and officials hate Muslims, and hatred is returned which creates a friction of malice. The inmates at the correctional center are in a realm of desire to become rebels against their oppressors.

This especially comes from a breach of the fourth pillar of Islam which is zakat. There is no Islamic organization that will tend to the needs of Muslims in the prisons. There are Muslims such as I with business ideas that could help to create an Islamic funding for Muslim prisoners all over the country. The Muslims in Arabia make too much money for any Muslim on the face of the planet to be poor. We need to develop organizations that could pay Muslim attorneys to assist incarcerated Muslims.

Many masjids that I have written and organizations, never write back. Currently I am in court fighting to get a halal diet for all Muslims in the State of Illinois and I am acting as a lawyer, but I cannot even procure an affidavit from a Muslim imam or halal food company and it’s a shame. We are in a dangerous situation—you have inmates of all religions speaking of blowing up buildings and other structures and this comes from oppression and depression.

Well we have a depiction of the problem, but we need a forecast of a solution, therefore we call on The Muslim Observer to publish this message, and perhaps a Muslim legal organization will assist me and us in court and others perhaps could subsidize us with the court case of Islam before it’s too late; thank you for reading.

As-Salaam aleikum wa Rahmatullah

Eric Ware, Mustapha Abdullah al-Alim Muhammad, R32516