Gov’t doesn’t fight order letting American Taliban fighter Lindh pray daily with other inmates

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal prison in Indiana on Wednesday was expected to begin allowing American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh and other Muslim inmates housed in his tightly controlled unit to start holding daily ritual group prayers.

The government had until Tuesday to appeal U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s Jan. 11 ruling allowing the daily group prayers, but it didn’t. Magnus-Stinson found that a prison policy preventing Lindh and the other Muslims in his unit from praying together daily when not locked in their cells violated a 1993 law banning the government from curtailing religious speech without showing a compelling interest.

She said her ruling didn’t prohibit less restrictive security measures in the Communications Management Unit, which houses terrorists and other inmates the government doesn’t want freely communicating with the outside world.

Ken Falk, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represented Lindh in a lawsuit challenging the prison policy, said Wednesday afternoon he didn’t yet know if the prison had started allowing the prayers. Officials at the prison didn’t return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking that same information.

Lindh is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. He was captured by U.S. troops that year, and in 2002 pleaded guilty to supplying services and carrying explosives for the now-defunct Taliban government. He is eligible for release in 2019.

Raised Catholic, the California native was 12 when he saw the movie “Malcolm X” and became interested in Islam. He converted at age 16. Walker told Newsweek after his capture that he had entered Afghanistan to help the Taliban build a “pure Islamic state.”

Lindh joined the prayer lawsuit in 2010, three years after being sent to the prison near the border between Indiana and Illinois. The suit was originally filed in 2009 by two Muslim inmates in the unit, but it got far more attention when Lindh joined the case. The other plaintiffs later dropped out as they were released or transferred from the prison.

Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan says blacks should curb spending, pool resources, buy land

Nation Of Islam.JPEGCHICAGO — Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan on Sunday called on blacks nationwide to curb economic disparities by cutting back on excessive spending, pooling resources and investing in land — an action plan he laid out during a three-hour speech at the movement’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.

The 79-year-old leader has often used the annual keynote address — part sermon, part lecture — to discuss current events and politics on a national platform, particularly after the election of the nation’s first black president. But Farrakhan focused most of his new message on the Nation of Islam followers in the audience.

“Even though one of our own has reached the highest pinnacle of the American political system, his presence has not, cannot and will not solve our problems,” Farrakhan told the crowd of men wearing navy uniforms and women dressed in white shirt suits and matching hijabs.

Roughly 10,000 people attended the convention at the University of Illinois at Chicago, an event that drew followers from around the globe and capped off three days of workshops.

The Nation of Islam has more than 1,500 acres of farmland in Georgia. Ishmael Muhammad, the religion’s national assistant minister, told The Associated Press that the group is looking to buy thousands more acres in the Midwest.

US Air Force veteran, finally allowed to fly into US, is now banned from flying back home

Secret, unaccountable no-fly lists are one of many weapons the US government uses to extra-judicially punish American Muslims

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Muslim U.S. Air Force veteran, who had trouble entering the country last year to visit his ailing mother, was barred Wednesday from boarding a flight in Oklahoma City to return to his home in Qatar.

Saadiq Long, an American citizen, told The Associated Press he attempted to board a Delta flight at Will Rogers World Airport but was denied a boarding pass.

But now Long – unbeknownst to him – has once again apparently been secretly placed by some unknown National Security State bureaucrat on the no-fly list. On Wednesday night, as Associated Press first reported, he went to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City to fly back home to Qatar. In order to ensure there were no problems, his lawyer sent the FBI a letter ahead of time notifying them that Long would be flying home on that date (see the embedded letter below).

Long’s lawyer, Adam Soltani of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was with him at the airport and repeatedly asked agents why this was happening and who they should contact. He got no answers, except was told to contact the FBI. But both the FBI and Delta refused to comment to AP, while TSA spokesman David Castelveter would only say this:

“It’s my understanding this individual was denied a boarding pass by the airline because he was on a no-fly list. The TSA does not confirm whether someone is or is not on the no-fly list, as that list is maintained by the FBI.”

Long said he had been visiting his mother, who suffers from congestive heart failure, for several months. He was attempting to return to Qatar, where he lives with his wife and children and teaches English. He intended to travel via Amsterdam.

Long said last year he also had difficulty entering the country and that the FBI harassed him and his sister after his arrival. The harassment stopped after Long requested a Department of Justice inquiry, Soltani said.

Long and his CAIR lawyers have thus far been told nothing about why he is barred once again from flying.

McDonald’s settles case alleging sandwich sold at Mich. store wasn’t halal as advertised

DEARBORN, Mich. — McDonald’s and one of its franchise owners agreed to pay $700,000 to members of the Muslim community to settle allegations a Detroit-area restaurant falsely advertised its food as being prepared according to Islamic dietary law.McDonald’s and Finley’s Management Co. agreed Friday to the tentative settlement, with that money to be shared by Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed, a Detroit health clinic, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and lawyers.Ahmed’s attorney, Kassem Dakhlallah, told The Associated Press on Monday that he’s “thrilled” with the preliminary deal that’s expected to be finalized March 1. McDonald’s and Finley’s Management deny any liability but say the settlement is in their best interests.The lawsuit alleged that Ahmed bought a chicken sandwich in September 2011 at a Dearborn McDonald’s but found it wasn’t halal — meaning it didn’t meet Islamic requirements for preparing
food. Islam forbids consumption of pork, and God’s name must be invoked before an animal providing meat for consumption is slaughtered.Dakhlallah said he was approached by Ahmed, and they conducted an investigation. A letter sent to McDonald’s Corp. and Finley’s Management by Dakhlallah’s firm said Ahmed had “confirmed from a source familiar with the inventory” that the restaurant had sold non-halal food “on many occasions.”After they received no response to the letter, Dakhlallah said, they filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court in November 2011 as part of a class action.

Newly released emails say no sailors watched bin Laden’s burial at sea after Navy SEAL raid

WASHINGTON — Internal emails among U.S. military officers indicate that no sailors watched Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea from the USS Carl Vinson and traditional Islamic procedures were followed during the ceremony.

The emails, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, are heavily blacked out, but are the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaida leader’s death. The emails were released Wednesday by the Defense Department.

Bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011, by a Navy SEAL team that assaulted his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One email stamped secret and sent on May 2 by a senior Navy officer briefly describes how bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet, and then placed in a weighted bag.

According to another message from the Vinson’s public affairs officer, only a small group of the ship’s leadership was informed of the burial.

Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defense Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the Vinson.

The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed.

NYC criminal justice college president says he is troubled by NYPD monitoring of campus group

NEW YORK — The president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said he is “deeply troubled” about reports that the New York Police Department sent a paid informant to spy on the school’s club for Muslim students.

School President Jeremy Travis sent a letter to students and professors Thursday reacting to an Associated Press report on the 19-year-old informant, Shamiur Rahman, who said he quit working for the NYPD at the end of the summer after growing uncomfortable with the job.

Rahman said his assignments included attending lectures hosted by John Jay’s Muslim Student Association, photographing people attending its events, and identifying its members and leaders.

In the letter, Travis said he was unaware of the spying, and expressed concerns about using informants for surveillance where there was no evidence of a crime.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the department’s intelligence-gathering operation as necessary to root out any potential terrorist plots.

Creator of new Muslim ‘Green Lantern’ super hero, brings some of his past to the comic page

DETROIT — When DC Comics decided to blow up its fabled universe and create a brave, diverse future, Geoff Johns drew from the past for a new character: his own background as an Arab-American.

The company’s chief creative officer and writer of the relaunched “Green Lantern” series dreamed up Simon Baz, DC’s most prominent Arab-American superhero and the first to wear a Green Lantern ring. The character and creator share Lebanese ancestry and hail from the Detroit area, which boasts one of the largest and oldest Arab communities in the United States.

“I thought a lot about it — I thought back to what was familiar to me,” Johns, 39, told The Associated Press by phone last week from Los Angeles, where he now lives. “This is such a personal story.”

Baz is not the first Arab or Muslim character to grace — or menace, as has historically been the case — the comic world. Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books. DC Comics in late 2010 introduced Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian descent reared in Paris. He is part of the global network of crime fighters set up by Batman alter-ego Bruce Wayne.

Muslim soldier convicted in failed plot to bomb Fort Hood troops in Texas restaurant

A federal jury Thursday convicted Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a Muslim soldier, on six charges in connection with his failed plot to blow up a Texas restaurant full of Fort Hood troops, his religious mission to get “justice” for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“A disaster was averted because somebody picked up the phone and made a call,” prosecutor Mark Frazier told The Associated Press after the trial. “The people who work in businesses like this are vigilant … and risked being embarrassed if their suspicions turned out to be nothing, but that’s what we want people to do.”

Abdo was convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder of U.S. officers or employees, and four counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence. He faces up to life in prison. U.S. District Judge Walter Smith is set to sentence Abdo in July.

Federal trial starting in Texas for Muslim soldier accused in bomb plot on Fort Hood troops

WACO, Texas — Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a Muslim soldier who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., is accused of planning to bomb a Killeen restaurant filled with Fort Hood soldiers and shoot any survivors last summer. Jury selection was scheduled to start Monday at his federal trial in Waco, about 50 miles northeast of Killeen, the city just outside Fort Hood.

Abdo, 22, faces up to life in prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, the most serious of the six charges on which he’s being tried.

Abdo, who was born in Texas and grew up in a Dallas suburb, became a Muslim when he was 17. He enlisted in the military in 2009, thinking that the service wouldn’t conflict with his religious beliefs. But according to his essay that was part of his conscientious objector status application, Abdo reconsidered as he explored Islam further.

In that essay, which he sent to The Associated Press in 2010, Abdo said acts like the 2009 Fort Hood shootings “run counter to what I believe in as a Muslim” and were “an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam.”

AP wins Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting on NYPD surveillance

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan of The Associated Press today were named winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their months-long series outlining the New York Police Department’s surveillance of minority and particularly Muslim neighborhoods since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In addition, the AP had finalists in two other Pulitzer categories, Feature Photography and National Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious honors in journalism.

The NYPD stories revealed that the department had become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, sending undercover officers into minority neighborhoods, student groups and houses of worship, though there was no indication they harbored criminals or terrorists.

In documenting the extent of the NYPD’s undercover operations, conducted with the advice and guidance of the CIA, the AP team’s stories ignited ongoing debate in the halls of government, in the ethnic communities, on editorial pages and across the Web.