New Jersey Gets Its First Muslim American Judge

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sunita Sohrabji   

sohailconfirmed_72211The state of New Jersey got its first Muslim American Superior Court judge June 30, as Sohail Mohammed, a former engineer from Hyderabad, took his oath of office.

Following contentious confirmation hearings in the New Jersey State Senate, Mohammed, 47, who became interested in law after serving jury duty, began working July 1 in Passaic County Superior Court’s Family Division.

“I am deeply, deeply honored to be representing the two greatest democracies in the world: India and the U.S.,” Mohammed said, adding that he hoped to create a process in his courtroom that left people’s dignity intact, regardless of whether they had won or lost.

Mohammed, who earned his law degree in night school at Seton Hall University while working for GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, said he has already ruled on a number of adoption cases.

“You see the kids in court, and there are such smiles on their faces. They are already saying, ‘This is my mommy; this is my daddy,’” related Mohammed, who emigrated from India with his parents when he was 10.

“One kid asked to touch the gavel. I lifted him up and he gave the gavel a loud bang. It was such a moving experience,” he said.

Mohammed refused to comment on his combative confirmation hearings, saying only, “It was a process.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had nominated Mohammed for the post Jan. 14, and the attorney had told India-West in an earlier interview that he expected his nomination to be fast-tracked through the confirmation process.

At his confirmation hearing June 29, Mohammed was grilled extensively about his ties to radical Islamist groups, and his opinion of Sharia law. Republican state Senator Gerald Cardinale, asked Mohammed about the organization Hamas – defined by the U.S. as a terrorist group – and also asked him to define the term jihad.

Cardinale also asked Mohammed if he had ever objected to the term “Islamo terrorist.”

Republican state Senator Joseph Kyrillos asked Mohammed why there was not more condemnation from Muslims about terrorism.

In an editorial, local columnist Bruce Lowry likened Mohammed’s confirmation hearings to a “witch hunt.”

Jolsna John, president of the North American South Asian Bar Association, said the accusations levied against Mohammed were ridiculous.

“Just because your name is Mohammed does not mean you’re a terrorist,” she said.

“Sohail has done some really great work for our community,” said John, noting that Mohammed, post 9-11, had worked to build bridges between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.

NASABA reached out to Mohammed during his confirmation process, said John, who encouraged other South Asian Americans to apply for judgeships, adding that her organization could provide help and resources.

Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager of the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York chapter, told India-West that the New Jersey state Senate had created a double standard during Mohammed’s confirmation process.

“This tells Muslim Americans that their service, their acts of patriotism, aren’t as valuable as those of other Americans,” stated McGoldrick.

“Muslims are being told on the one hand ‘acculturate within your larger community,’ yet our institutions and our people are being shut out,” he said.

Mohammed is a board member of the American Muslim Union and an executive board member of the New Jersey Bar Association. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammed represented more than 30 undocumented immigrants who were not affiliated with the attacks, but caught up in sweeps by federal agents. The father of three boys has trained the FBI on Islamic culture and arranged a job fair in New Jersey where young Muslims could apply for jobs with law enforcement agencies.

Mohammed, who formerly practiced immigration law in Clifton, New Jersey, told India-West he has disbanded his solo practice, handing his clients off to other attorneys.

“It was really sad for me,” he said. “But there’s a greater good to be done out there.”

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Community News (V13-I29)

July 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Sohail Mohammed sworn in

NEW JERSEY,NJ–Indian born Sohail Mohammed was sworn in on July 1st as a Superior Court judge in Passaic County. He is the first Indian-American judge in New Jersey. He is also probably the first Muslim judge in the state.

Born in Hyderabad, Mohammed came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 17. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1988 from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and then worked full-time for GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems in New Jersey.

At the same time, he worked on his law degree at the Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, N.J. doing evening classes.

In 2009, he was named among the 101 most influential people in New Jersey by the New Jersey Monthly magazine. He was on the New Jersey “Super Lawyer” list six years running from 2006 to 2011.

Faheem Zaman bags Thiel Fellowship

NEW YORK,NY–Paypal founder Peter Thiel’s Thiel Foundation has announced its first batch of 20 under 20 fellows. The fellowship awards $100,000 to teenagers to drop out of higher education for two years and invest the time in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Among the fellows is Faheem Zaman who  has shot the moon on nearly every SAT test he’s ever taken: 5580 points across 5 tests. He wants to decentralize banking in the developing world with a mobile payment system. Because savings are difficult in poor countries—including in some regions of South Asia where many have to hoard and protect cash—Faheem believes mobile financial services will help bring prosperity to these areas. Before he introduces his technology to the developing world, Faheem’s initial plan is to gain a foothold in the U.S. market for mobile financial services.

Ayman Khan wins water scholarship

LONG ISLAND,NY–Lynbrook High School students Ayman Khan wAS awarded a $2,500 scholarship in a recent ceremony in Albany by Long Island American Water. She is one of the two local winners of the National Association of Water Companies New York Chapter (NAWC-NY) Scholarship program.

Both students  showed a bold passion for the environment and the water industry through their applications and essays,” said William Varley, chairman of the NAWC-NY and President of Long Island American Water. “These students displayed great potential, and we are excited to award each of them a scholarship to help in their pursuit to achieving success in the water industry.”

The NAWC-NY launched this scholarship program for high school seniors interested in pursuing a career in the water utility industry or related fields.  As a member of NAWC-NY, Long Island American Water offered two scholarships to high school students in its service area who will be attending a university or college in New York and pursuing a degree related to the water utility industry or related field.

Ayman Khan will be attending the City College of New York in the fall. She has held leadership roles in numerous organizations, including serving as President of Students Taking Active Roles (START) and Secretary of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). She has also received numerous awards including the Long Island Science Congress Merit Award, Discus Award and President’s Volunteer Award

Khan leaving Samsung for Citibank

NEW YORK,NY–The Chief Technology Officer  at Samsung Mobile’s USA group, Omar Khan, has announced that he is leaving the company for a position at Citibank heading up the financial company’s global mobile efforts. Khan led the unveiling of the revised Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 tablets on stage at CTIA for Samsung earlier this year, as he has done for many of Samsung’s mobile devices over the past three years. Khan formerly worked as a VP for Motorola before joining Samsung. In the recent past Khan often introduced the company’s tablets and Galaxy phones at events.

At Citibank he will reportedly be leading its mobile initiatives.

Dr. Maha Hussain leads study on prostate cancer drug

A study led by Dr. Maha Hussain shows that a prostate cancer drug may prevent bone metastatis, reports the Renal and Urology News.  The  promising results for cabozantinib, a new therapeutic agent for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), particularly against tumors that have metastasized to the bone. In a phase 2 study of men (median age 68 years) with metastatic CRPC (mCRPC) who were followed for a median of four months, 47% of the 100 evaluable patients had undergone prior treatment with docetaxel. Seventy-eight percent had bone metastasis. Among the 65 patients evaluable by bone scan, 56 (86%) experienced complete or partial resolution of bone lesions as early as week 6 of cabozantinib treatment. In addition, 64% of the 28 men receiving narcotics for bone pain had improved pain relief, with narcotics reduced or halted in 46%. By week 12, the disease control rate was 71%. Cabozantinib, an inhibitor of the MET and VEGF pathways, showed clinical activity regardless of prior docetaxel therapy.

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Law School Study Finds Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo In 2006

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Scott Horton

On the night of June 9-10 in 2006, three prisoners held at the Guantánamo prison’s Camp Delta died under mysterious circumstances. Military authorities responded by quickly ordering media representatives off the island and blocking lawyers from meeting with their clients. The first official military statements declared the deaths not just suicides–but actually went so far as to describe them as acts of “asymmetrical warfare” against the United States.

Now a 58-page study prepared by law faculty and students at Seton Hall University in New Jersey starkly challenges the Pentagon’s claims. It notes serious and unresolved contradictions within a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) report — which was publicly released only in fragmentary form, two years after the fact — and declares the military’s internal investigation an obvious cover-up. The only question is: of what?

Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, who directed the study, said in an interview that “there are two possibilities here. Either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than three years later we do not know what really happened.” (Read a Q&A with
Denbeaux: “`The Most Innocent Explanation Is That This Is Gitmo Meets Lord Of The Flies’”.)

The new study exposes how the NCIS report purports that all three prisoners on the prison’s Alpha Block did the following to commit suicide:

• Braided a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing.
• Made mannequins of themselves so it would appear to the guards they were asleep in their cells.
• Hung sheets to block the view into the cells.
• Stuffed rags down their own throats well past a point which would have induced involuntary gagging.
• Tied their own feet together.
• Tied their own hands together.
• Hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling.
• Climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and release their weight, resulting in death by strangulation.

The study also notes that there has never been any explanation of how the three bodies could have hung in the cells, undiscovered, for at least two hours, when the cells were supposed to be under constant supervision by roving guards and video cameras.

Disturbingly, these facts were collected within the NCIS report — but without discussion or any effort to make conclusions based on them. Was that because the facts did not fit the conclusions that military leaders had already offered the public and that the investigators were therefore struggling to support — namely that the prisoners committed suicide? It is not even clear that it would be physically possible for the prisoners to commit suicide consistent with these facts.

One of the Seton Hall study’s authors, law student and former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division Paul W. Taylor, stated: “We have three bodies and no explanation. How is it possible that all three detainees had shoved rags so far down their own throats that medical personnel could not remove them? One of the dead detainees was scheduled for release from Guantanamo Bay in 19 days. Instead he died in custody.”

The Seton Hall study concludes that the NCIS investigators made conclusions completely unsupported by facts. For instance, they concluded that the three prisoners committed suicide as part of a “conspiracy.” But, according to the study: “The investigations… fail to present any evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, all other evidence is inconsistent with the conclusion that the detainees conspired.”

The Seton Hall study also faults the manner in which military investigators proceeded. “There is reason to suspect that the [NCIS] interviewers designed questions to obtain particular results. The interviewers failed to frame their inquiries neutrally.” Moreover, by June 14, 2006, military investigators had informed all four guards assigned to Alpha Block that night, the Alpha Block noncommissioned officer, and the Alpha Block platoon leader that they were suspected of making false official statements and/or failing to obey direct orders. This suggests that NCIS investigators believed they were being consciously misled on key issues. But amazingly, when the final report issued, no disciplinary measures of any sort were recommended.

There was also a large amount of evidence which should have been assembled as a matter of routine, but which is missing from the NCIS report, the new study explains.. Most disturbing is the absence of sworn statements, which should have been prepared immediately after the events in question and then been turned over to investigators. In this case, however, it appears that affected personnel were actually ordered not to prepare such statements. Instead, the Seton Hall study notes that “the Commander assembled three or four of the Alpha guards aside to put together `the series of events,’ and he spoke with each of them for approximately four or five minutes.” Amazingly, the military investigation makes no effort to ascertain what was said or done during this meeting at which an effort was evidently made to coordinate accounts.

A videotape of the hallway and common area existed, but is not taken into account in the report. Similarly, no effort appears to have been made to examine radio and telephone communications. Other critical records, including the missing Duty Roster, Detainee Transfer Book and Pass-On Book also do not appear in the report.

When the NCIS report was finally released, it was redacted so heavily as to make it almost incomprehensible. More than a third of the pages were fully redacted, and very few pages were released without some redaction. The NCIS report itself is highly disorganized, without an index or even a chronological progression in its recounting of events. All this appears intended to make review and criticism of the report much more difficult. While the redaction of names of service personnel is appropriate, it is difficult to understand why many other redactions were undertaken.

Human Rights Watch is calling for the release of the unredacted NCIS report. HRW’s Joanne Mariner stated, in response to a request for comment, that “the heavy-handed nature of the redactions to the publicly-released reports of the investigations makes it impossible to get a clear picture of the events of that night. We think that the heavy redactions currently found in the documents — by which names, dates, and other key facts are completely obscured on many pages — raise concerns about whether the military is trying to hide embarrassing facts.”

The Seton Hall study also points to a large number of violations of Guantánamo’s standard operating procedures that appear in the investigation, many of which are linked directly to the deaths. Although the NCIS investigation flags many of these violations, no disciplinary action of any sort was taken. The Seton Hall study sees evidence of a “camp in disarray.” Professor Denbeaux notes “guards not on duty, detainees hanging dead in their cells for hours and guards leaving their posts to eat the detainees’ leftover food.” He sees the failure to take disciplinary measures as further evidence of a cover-up. Denbeaux stresses that his review not only leaves serious doubt as to the military’s conclusions that the deaths were suicides, it also exposes gross misconduct by camp guards and others that went undisciplined.

The study is the eleventh in a series of reports by the Seton Hall Law School examining issues related to the detention regime at Guantanamo and establishing that a number of Pentagon claims about Guantanamo and the prisoners held there are pure myths. One earlier report established that over 80% of the prisoners were captured not by Americans on the battlefield but by Pakistanis and Afghans, often in exchange for bounty payments. Another demonstrated that the Guantanamo Combat Status Review Tribunals consistently failed to follow their own rules and were frequently convened for purposes of overturning determinations made by earlier tribunals that prisoners were not enemy combatants. Another debunked Bush Administration claims denying the existence of tapes of prisoner interrogations, and demonstrated that 24,000 such tapes were made, together with extensive notes based on them.

This latest study comes shortly after the resignation of the Obama Administration’s two top officials responsible for detainee issues: White House counsel Greg Craig and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Phil Carter.

A senior Pentagon official, asked about the report on Sunday, did not have an immediate response, but said one might be forthcoming. This post will be updated if and when the Pentagon has a statement.

READ the report below: Death in Camp Delta –
Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo Bay
http://freedetainees.org/7590?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+freedetainees%2FZCdR+%28freedetainees.org%29

Scott Horton is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, where he writes on law and national security issues, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches international private law and the law of armed conflict, and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union. He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, where he currently serves as a trustee.

Scott recently led a number of studies of issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror, including the introduction of highly coercive interrogation techniques and the program of extraordinary renditions for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also an associate of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, Center on Law and Security of NYU Law School, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He co-authored a recent study on legal accountability for private military contractors, Private Security Contractors at War. He appeared at an expert witness for the House Judiciary Committee three times in the past two years testifying on the legal status of private military contractors and the program of extraordinary renditions and also testified as an expert on renditions issue before an investigatory commission of the European Parliament.

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