US seeks Al-Qaeda suspect’s extradition from Belgium

US authorities are seeking the extradition of Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian convicted in Belgium for planning terrorist attacks and have suspected links to an Al-Qaeda network. Trabelsi lodged an appeal to a Belgian court to approve his extradition. “The Americans think that Nizar Trabelsi is an active Al-Qaeda member who was developing activities beyond those he was convicted of in Belgium,” said Lieve Pellens, a spokesperson for federal prosecutors. Trabelsi was arrested just two days after the 9/11 terror attacks. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to drive a car bomb into a NATO airbase in northern Belgium, where American military personnel work.

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9/11 response ‘huge overreaction’ – ex-MI5 chief

She made it clear she abhorred “war on terror” rhetoric and the government’s abandoned plans to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days without charge. She also criticised politicians including Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, for trying to outbid each other in their opposition to terrorism and making national security a partisan issue. “National security has become much more of a political issue than it ever was in my day,” she said. “Parties are tending to use it as a way of trying to get at the other side. You know, ‘We’re more tough on terrorism than you are.’ I think that’s a bad move, quite frankly.” Rimington mentioned Guantánamo Bay, the practice of extraordinary rendition, and the invasion of Iraq – three issues which the majority in Britain’s security and intelligence establishment opposed privately at the time. She also challenged claims, notably made by Tony Blair, that the war in Iraq was not related to the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Britain. Asked what impact the war had on the terrorist threat, she replied: “Well, I think all one can do is look at what those people who’ve been arrested or have left suicide videos say about their motivation. And most of them, as far as I’m aware, say that the war in Iraq played a significant part in persuading them that this is the right course of action to take.

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Suspected 9/11 Terrorist Challenges Canadian Detention

A suspected Syrian terrorist who has spent seven years in custody in Canada is claiming that his indefinite detention without charge or trial amounts to cruelty. Hassan Almrei has argued in Canadian Federal court that this lengthy incarceration violates his constitutional rights. Almrei has arrested after September 11, 2001 and is one of five Muslim foreigners held under a national security certificate, which allows the Canadian government to detain suspects indefinitely, with secret evidence, as a threat to public safety.

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‘Have more babies and Muslims can take over the UK’ hate fanatic says, as warning comes that ‘next 9/11 will be in UK’

Muslim hate fanatics plan to take over Britain by having more babies and forcing a population explosion, it has been revealed. The swollen Muslim population would be enough to conquer Britain from inside, they claim. Fanatics told a meeting of young Muslims on the anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity, that it would then be easy to impose Sharia law on the population, the Sun newspaper reported. Speaking at a meeting in London, Anjem Choudary, right-hand man of exiled preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, said: “It may be by pure conversion that Britain will become an Islamic state. We may never need to conquer it from the outside.” He added: “We do not integrate into Christianity. We will ensure that one day you will integrate into the Sharia Islamic law.” His comments were made as voice of hate Bakri warned that the next 9/11 would take place in the UK. Speaking via video link the exiled cleric said Osama bin Laden had taught the Americans a ‘lesson’ seven years ago, but the ‘crusaders’ had not learned.

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The Clash

It would have been unlike Samuel P. Huntington to say “I told you so” after 9/11. He is too austere and serious a man, with a legendary career as arguably the most influential and original political scientist of the last half century – always swimming against the current of prevailing opinion.

In the 1990s, first in an article in the magazine Foreign Affairs, then in a book published in 1996 under the title “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” he had come forth with a thesis that ran counter to the zeitgeist of the era and its euphoria about globalization and a “borderless” world. After the cold war, he wrote, there would be a “clash of civilizations.” Soil and blood and cultural loyalties would claim, and define, the world of states.

Muslims in Western Europe After 9/11

The principal aim of this report is to highlight the multi-layered levels of discrimination encountered by Muslims. This phenomenon cannot simply be subsumed into the term Islamophobia. Indeed, the term can be misleading, as it presupposes the pre-eminence of religious discrimination when other forms of discrimination (such as racial or class) may be more relevant. We therefore intend to use the term Islamophobia as a starting point for analyzing the different dimensions that define the political situation of Muslim minorities in Europe. We will not to take the term for granted by assigning it only one meaning, such as anti-Islamic discourse.

The report is part of WP: Securitization and Religious Divides in Europe

Held In 9/11 Net, Muslims Return To Accuse U.S.

By NINA BERNSTEIN Hundreds of noncitizens were swept up on visa violations in the weeks after 9/11, held for months in a much-criticized federal detention center in Brooklyn as “persons of interest” to terror investigators, and then deported. This week, one of them is back in New York and another is due today – the first to return to the United States. They are no longer the accused but the accusers, among six former detainees who are coming back to give depositions in their federal lawsuits against top government officials and detention guards, at a time when the constitutionality of part of the government’s counterterrorism offensive is under new scrutiny. As in the cases of all the Muslim immigrants rounded up in the New York area after the terror attacks, the six were never accused of a crime related to 9/11; officials eventually cleared all of them of links to terrorism. A report by the inspector general of the Justice Department found systemic problems with immigrant detentions and widespread abuse at the federal detention center where the six had been held; several guards have since been disciplined. But as the six return to the city – four of them from Egypt, one from Pakistan, one from London – the conditions imposed by the United States government include the requirement that they be in the constant custody of federal marshals. They are barred from calling anyone during their weeklong stays at an undisclosed New York hotel, where 12 days of closed depositions are to begin today. They can expect hours of questioning by lawyers representing at least 31 defendants in the lawsuits, including John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I. The first returning detainees, Yasser and Hany Ibrahim, who are brothers, say that putting themselves back in the hands of the government they are suing is an act of faith in America. In recent telephone interviews from Alexandria, Egypt, the two described themselves as frightened but resolute in pressing a 2002 class-action lawsuit charging that they were abused and deprived of due process because of their religion or national origin. “I’m seeking justice,” said Yasser, 33, who had a Web site design business in Brooklyn before he and Hany, 29, a deli worker, were delivered in shackles to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn 19 days after 9/11. “It’s from the same system that did us injustice before. But I have faith in this system. I know what happened before was a mistake.” Charles S. Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said officials would not comment on any aspect of the case, including the conditions of the men’s return to the city and their allegations. But in court papers, the defendants deny wrongdoing, and department lawyers argue in part that the Sept. 11 attacks created “special factors” – including the need to detect and deter future terrorist attacks – that outweigh the plaintiffs’ right to sue for damages for any constitutional violations. The detainees’ lawyers say that what happened at the Brooklyn detention center can be recognized four years later as the template for many of the counterterrorism measures now being fiercely challenged. “The post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps were the first example of the Bush administration’s willingness to ignore the law and hold people outside the judicial system,” said Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Ibrahim brothers. “The kind of torture, interrogation and arbitrary detention that we now associate with Guant_namo and secret C.I.A. facilities really started right here, in Brooklyn.” Richard Peter Caro, a lawyer for Stuart Pray, the lieutenant who oversaw the detainees’ arrival at the detention center, said yesterday: “We’re glad that they’re coming in to be deposed so we can really get at the facts and finally see what the evidence shows. I’m confident that my client will be found to have committed no wrongdoing at all.” Last week, the center filed a class-action suit against President Bush and other administration officials over the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping without warrants. Ms. Meeropol is one of the plaintiffs, contending that her communications with clients like the Ibrahims may have been monitored illegally. The government says the surveillance program is a legal and valuable tool in the war on terror. Illegal recording of lawyer-client conversations was one of the abuses documented at the Brooklyn detention center in a scathing 2003 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report also found a pattern of physical abuse, some of it caught on prison videotape, including beatings and sexual humiliations like those described by the Ibrahim brothers or other former detainees. The report said it was Mr. Ashcroft’s policy to hold detainees on any legal pretext until the F.B.I. cleared them, even though such clearances took months and many detainees were immigrants picked up by chance. At the time, Mr. Ashcroft said he made “no apologies” for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public. Nonetheless, officials pledged to work on getting kinks out of the system, and said abuses would be punished. Critics charge that the authority that Mr. Ashcroft asserted after 9/11 – to detain any noncitizen considered a “person of interest” secretly and indefinitely – is unconstitutional. Government officials argue that secrecy is needed to keep terrorists in the dark. Mr. Ashcroft has sought to have the two lawsuits brought by the detainees dismissed. But in a decision appealed by the government, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled in September that he and other defendants would have to answer questions, at a later deposition, in one of the suits: a 2004 complaint by another two of the six returning detainees. Those two men, in their late 30’s, are Ehab Elmaghraby, an Egyptian immigrant who ran a restaurant near Times Square, and Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani immigrant whose Long Island customers knew him as “the cable guy.” “I am not afraid,” Mr. Iqbal wrote last week in an e-mail message about his return. “I am also sure that justice will be served because peoples of U.S.A. are justice-loving people regardless of race and religion.” The Ibrahim brothers are more fearful. They say that their parents begged them not to return to the country where they were held in maximum security without charges for eight months and, the brothers charge, beaten and tormented by guards. “Part of my motivation is to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to more people in the future,” said Yasser, who was due to arrive in New York today, joining his brother, who came on Friday. Both spoke with nostalgia of the three or four years they lived in New York, on and off, before 9/11. When they were not working, they said, they hung out together in Greenwich Village, browsed electronics stores near Times Square and took friends on the rides at Coney Island. Hany proudly recalled how he worked his way up from stock boy to grill man and then manager of a deli in Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn. “The best I lived in my life was in New York,” he said. Right after the World Trade Center attack, they said, their parents urged them to come home. “We assured them,” Yasser recalled: ” ‘This is the United States. They don’t arrest people for no charges. We didn’t do anything, so nothing’s going to happen to us.’ ” But at 2 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2001, the lawsuit says, a dozen terrorism investigators from the F.B.I., the police and immigration services knocked at the door of the Ocean Parkway apartment that the brothers shared with several Egyptian and Moroccan friends. After questioning, the investigators took away Yasser, Hany and another man, all of whose tourist visas had expired. Why investigators showed up is unclear, said their lawyer, Ms. Meeropol. But she noted that some interrogations were prompted by anonymous tips about “suspicious-looking” foreign men. Federal officials have contended that at a time when a second terror attack seemed imminent, all tips had to be checked. As
a practical matter, once the brothers were labeled “of interest” to investigators, they were destined for the maximum-security unit of the Metropolitan Detention Center. Physical abuse, the lawsuit says, began the moment they arrived, chained and shackled. As Yasser described it, guards supervised by Lieutenant Pray slammed his brother face-first into a wall where an American flag T-shirt had been taped, then did the same to him. Pain became part of the brothers’ daily routine, the lawsuit charges. Escort teams cursing them as Muslims and terrorists slammed them into every available wall when they were taken from their cells, twisted their wrists and fingers, and stepped on their leg chains so that they fell, their ankles bruised and bloody, according to the suit. But worse than physical or verbal abuse, Yasser said, was “the feeling that we are being hidden from the outside world, and nobody knows in the outside world that we are arrested and in this place.” Hany, who says he had a nervous breakdown when he returned to Egypt, recalled that guards and lieutenants terrified him by saying, “You’re going to stay here the rest of your life.” At a closed immigration hearing on Nov. 20, three weeks after their arrest, the brothers agreed to immediate deportation. By Dec. 7, the lawsuit says, F.B.I. memos stated that clearance checks on the Ibrahims had shown no links to terrorism. But they were held six more months – Hany until May 29, 2002, and Yasser until June 6. The suit asks the court to declare that all the detentions were unjustified and illegal, to award compensatory and punitive damages, and to order the government to return personal property it confiscated. To prevent unnecessary detentions and abuses of noncitizens in the event of a new national emergency, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, in 2003 recommended changes in counterterrorism policy as well as disciplinary action against at least 10 guards and supervisors. In his last report to Congress, in August 2005, Mr. Fine said that many of his recommendations had been acted upon but that formal policy changes were still being negotiated. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has fired two detention officers, suspended two for 30 days and demoted one in connection with the Brooklyn inquiry, said Traci Billingsley, a bureau spokeswoman. The Ibrahim brothers say that when they finally reached home, they found that the presumption of guilt had followed them into an Egyptian secret service dossier that made them unemployable. Yasser, now married with a 2-year-old son, said he and Hany were eking out a living in a small jewelry business. “It’s going to be very difficult for me to go back for just a week and not to be able to see the places that I loved before,” he said of his return. “America’s the land of the free.”

Jury Awards $2.45 Million To Man Cleared Of Terrorism Link; Egyptian-Born Doctor Target Of 9/11 Probe

By Torsten Ove An Egyptian-born radiologist initially suspected of having terrorist ties in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 and later cleared was awarded $2.45 million yesterday by a federal jury that decided his right to privacy was violated. Dr. Basem Moustafa Hussein, 40, won the award from his former landlord in Neshannock Township outside New Castle, where he was living in 2001. The jury said his building manager at The Meadows Apartments, Sherri Lynn Wilson, was liable along with her company for violating his privacy when she walked into his unit on Sept. 11 and saw, among other items, a compact disc jacket that showed a jetliner flying through two buildings next to a fireball. Wilson called state police, leading to a federal investigation that ended a few days later when the FBI concluded Hussein had nothing to do with terrorism. The disc jacket turned out to be part of a flight simulator computer game, as was a flight manual Wilson saw next to it. Hussein filed suit later that year, saying he had endured repeated questioning from agents, lost his job in New Mexico, was evicted from his apartment and had his name mentioned as a potential terrorist in news reports. He said Egyptian police also ransacked his parent’s apartment in Egypt at the request of U.S. authorities and caused $200,000 in damage. Hussein named Wilson and her employer, Universal Development Management Inc., of Girard, Ohio, as defendants, along with UDE of Mitchell Road Ltd., of Girard, a limited partnership that owns the building. The jury actually ruled against Hussein on three of his four civil rights claims, saying the defendants did not trespass and did not discriminate against him because of his race. Hussein had said Wilson targeted him because he’s Arabic. But the jury did say she invaded his privacy. He won $850,000 in compensatory damages and another $1.6 million in punitive damages for “malice or reckless indifference” to his rights. Hussein, who travels the country as a contract radiologist, was on his way to a new job in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday and couldn’t be reached. His lawyer, Craig Fishman, said Hussein didn’t want to talk to the news media. Eric Hall, an Allentown-based lawyer for the defendants, didn’t return a call yesterday. For a while, the incident completely disrupted Hussein’s life. On Sept. 11, Hussein was reading X-rays at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., where he had started work Sept. 4. After the search in Neshannock, FBI agents in New Mexico began questioning him. He took a leave of absence from his job but said he was fired Sept. 13. That same day, he said, the apartment building management served notice that his lease was being terminated because his conduct “constitutes a health and safety risk to the apartment complex and other tenants.” That night, an FBI agent in New Mexico exonerated him in the investigation. He was later subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, but on Sept. 26 he met with federal prosecutors here to answer questions without having to testify. The U.S. attorney’s office said he was not a suspect. Hussein had said previously he was singled out because he appeared to be the ideal suspect. He has Arab roots, he’s Muslim and he’s a single doctor without social ties to his neighbors. It didn’t help that he has an affinity for aviation. Hussein moved from Egypt to Canada with his family when he was 6 years old. Although he’s a Canadian citizen, he has been a permanent resident of the United States since the 1980s and had been living in Neshannock for about two years when the terrorist attacks occurred.

Post-9/11 Workplace Discrimination Continues

By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY Nearly four years after the terrorist attacks, Muslim, South Asian and Arab-American employees continue to report discrimination on the job. Compared with the first two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the number of employees saying they’ve been discriminated against as a form of backlash because of the attacks has declined. But charges continue to come in, indicating that Arab-American and other workers still feel discriminated against. “People are being called ‘terrorist’ at work, things of that sort,” says Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director at Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “A lot of cases continue to go on. People have been called Osama bin Laden, told they are going to mosque to learn how to build a bomb.” Nearly 280 claims of discrimination in the workplace were received by CAIR in 2004, and the workplace was the second-most-common location for an alleged incident. The first was government agencies. At the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 980 charges alleging post-9/11 backlash discrimination have been filed through June 11 since the 2001 attacks. Most involved firing and alleged harassment; the EEOC specifically tracks “backlash” cases, where employees claim discrimination relating to 9/11. Likewise, religious bias charges are higher today than before 9/11. From Sept. 11, 2001, through June 11, the EEOC received 2,168 charges of discrimination based on an employee’s Muslim religion. That compares with 1,104 such charges in the same time span before the attacks. The agency has obtained more than $4.2 million on behalf of employees alleging post-9/11 backlash. The EEOC has filed lawsuits against employers such as MBNA America Bank, the Plaza hotel in New York, Alamo Rent A Car and construction giant Bechtel. Some Recent Eeoc Cases: – A lawsuit alleging the New York Plaza hotel and Fairmont Hotel Management discriminated against Muslim, Arab and South Asian employees was settled last month for $525,000. A 2001 lawsuit claimed that Plaza employees were called “terrorist,” “Taliban” and “dumb Muslim.” It also alleges that managers wrote “Osama” and “Taliban” instead of employees’ names on key holders. Fairmont Hotel Management managed the hotel, which has since been sold. “As a company, we are committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination or harassment,” says Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of human resources at Fairmont, in Toronto. – In March, upscale seafood restaurant Pesce agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging bias against the store’s general manager. According to the lawsuit, a former co-owner openly speculated that the manager’s Egyptian name and appearance were the reasons Pesce had seen earnings drop in the months after 9/11. The manager was fired. Pesce, which has since been sold to new owners, declined to comment. – The EEOC filed a lawsuit last year against an MBNA subsidiary in Philadelphia claiming in part that offensive comments were made to Indian and black employees after 9/11, including an Indian employee who was called “Osama bin Laden.” The case is pending. MBNA says there is no merit to the claim.

British Asians In Identity Crisis, Post 9/11

By AMIT ROY London: A growing number of young people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin have been so traumatised by the aftermath of 9/11 that they now prefer to identify themselves as “British Muslims” rather than as “British Asian”, a provocative BBC radio documentary claimed on Tuesday night. The programme on BBC Radio 4, Don’t Call Me Asian, was presented by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, who began by admitting: “A few years ago I, too, would have described myself as a British Asian. But these days I am just as likely to say that I am a British Muslim.” He explained: “I remember that the reason I used Asian was because it offered less ammunition to racists than saying or admitting I was Pakistani.” In his quest to prove that others have also rejected the term “British Asian” and now want to be defined exclusively by their religion, Manzoor interviewed a number of young people. One man of Pakistani origin insisted: “I think the word Asian is dead. Recent events globally and for me personally have made me re-examine what my identity is and hence I call myself British Muslim. Previously I would call myself Asian or Pakistani.” When Manzoor interviewed young Hindus who apparently no longer want to be called British Asian, an Indian girl commented: “Initially, if I had to fill out a form I would say British Asian. Events like September 11 have shaken us all up and we don’t wish to be under that banner of Asian any more.” A young Bangladeshi woman at university revealed that she self-consciously tried out a hijab at home and then started wearing it outside. “I became more conscious of who I was and what I did and how that affected every area of my life,” she said. Aftab Hussain, who works for a theatre company, found himself quizzed by his non-Muslim friends, “Why does Islam say this or that?” He eventually found himself “having to go away and learn about my religion. It has made young people more proactive about being Muslim”. Mohammed Mamdani, the founder of Muslim Youth Helpline, told Manzoor: “Many young Muslims are in a very fearful state where they don’t know how they fit into a society which constantly refers to their religion in terms of terrorism or radicalisation. This is also propagating the marginalisation and alienation of young Muslims”. According to Tariq Madood, professor of sociology at Bristol University, media portrayal of young Muslims hasn’t helped. “If there are disturbances at Bradford and the BBC is describing them as ‘Asian youths’, Hindus and Sikhs will get up and say, ‘Well, actually, what is the point of calling them Asian youths when they are Pakistani Muslims?’ ” Madood went on: “People want to be more assertive of the identities that they themselves choose to prioritise and this is partly because they want to promote their own good image and partly to disassociate themselves from what they see as the bad images with which they are being confused.” Manzoor interviewed young people attending the annual conference of the National Hindu Federation in London, where a young woman told him that she was travelling on the underground when “I was asked by a young white male whether I was Muslim and whether my people were responsible for September 11. And I said, I am not Muslim and my people weren’t responsible for September 11. So going on from there I do want my own identity now”. But a more representative sample of young Asians, taken, say, at a music concert, would probably find only one out of 100 keen to be defined purely in religious terms. At Oldham College in a city rocked by riots over three years ago, a youth of Pakistani origin argued: “We are Asian and that’s what we are. I call myself British Asian.” Manzoor interviewed the academic Lord Bhikhu Parekh, who disapproved of the tendency for people to define themselves only as Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. “The tendency of a community to define itself entirely in religious terms and to collapse its complete complex identity – political, cultural and others – into a single, one-dimensional religious identity is a very worrying phenomenon,” he said. “No individual is simply a Muslim. He is also a Pakistani or an Indian, he is also a male, he is also a professor, and then for him to say, ‘All those things don’t matter at all, the only thing that matters about me is that I am a Muslim,’ is in itself worrying. That leads to a great impoverishment of an individual’s capacity to understand himself or herself.” “If somebody were to say to me he defines himself as a Muslim and therefore he sees me as a Hindu, I would feel he was not only impoverishing himself but he was doing a lot of harm by abridging my identity. It then becomes difficult to operate in a relatively secular society,” Parekh added.