Virginia county officials say they’re trying to determine if laws broken in Marathon bombing suspect’s secret burial

DOSWELL, Va. — Officials in the county where the remains of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev have been buried say they were stunned to learn of the burial and they are looking into whether the law was followed in the process.

“As long as everything was done legally, there’s really very little we can do,” said Floyd Thomas, chairman of the board of supervisors of Caroline County. “What we would do is make sure that all of the laws regarding this particular burial were adhered to. If they were not, then I believe we would have to look at undoing what happened.”

Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa Jr. said he had alerted Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli about the incident, and was told Cuccinelli was looking into whether all laws were followed.

Tsarnaev was buried in a small Muslim cemetery in Doswell, a community about 15 miles from Richmond, the state capital.

Tsarnaev’s remains are interred at the Al-Barzakh Cemetery, the first Muslim cemetery in central Virginia, according to the Virginia woman who helped arrange the burial and to Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia.

Federal government asks judge to throw out American Muslim’s false imprisonment lawsuit

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Boise, Idaho is questioning the urgency that FBI agents felt when they arrested and detained an American Muslim under a law designed to ensure that witnesses show up to testify in court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams questioned Department of Justice attorney Marcus Meeks during a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Abdullah al-Kidd against the federal government.

Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, sued former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other federal officials in 2005, after he was arrested and jailed as a material witness in a terrorism-related criminal case against another man. He contends his arrest was just a ruse to give the government time to investigate him for any potential wrongdoing. The federal government maintains its actions were constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already thrown out al-Kidd’s claims against Ashcroft and a few other defendants, and al-Kidd has prevailed in a claim against one prison and settled his claims against two other lockups. Now FBI agents Michael Gneckow and Scott Mace and the Department of Justice are asking the judge to throw out al-Kidd’s claims against them.

Attempted bomber of Detroit-bound plane gets life in prison

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to bring down a U.S. commercial flight on Christmas Day 2009 by detonating a bomb hidden in his underwear, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in federal court in Detroit.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said life in prison is a “just punishment,” noting that “the defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere.”

Abdulmutallab’s lawyer had said that sentencing the Nigerian to mandatory life as required under federal law would be unconstitutional because no one was killed in the attempted bombing. But Edmunds was unmoved.

Government lawyers, who played video of the impact of detonating the equivalent amount of explosives as Abdulmutallab carried, essentially said that his failure to succeed in the attack did not lessen its seriousness. They described him as an “unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired.”

“Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

US attorney general invokes state secrets privilege in suit Calif. Muslims filed against FBI

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion.

In a legal declaration filed late Monday, Holder makes a rare assertion of the state secrets privilege, arguing that it could cause significant harm to national security if the government is forced to reveal the subjects of a mosque-surveillance operation in 2006 and describe how the monitoring was carried out.
The FBI has said it does not initiate counterterrorism operations based solely on a group’s religion.

Holder Calls Terrorism Sting Operations ‘Essential’

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has defended the use of sting operations orchestrated by government informers, telling advocates for the civil rights of American Muslims on Friday night that the tactic is an “essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.”

Tensions escalated last year after revelations that an FBI informant had infiltrated a mosque in California, seeking to build a terrorism case that later collapsed. Citing that case and what it called a pattern of FBI surveillance, a coalition of leading national Muslim organizations has largely suspended contact with the bureau.

White House quietly reaching out to Muslims

The Obama Administration has quietly engaged in a dialogue with American Muslims and Arab-Americans according to the NYT. Following Mr. Obama’s Cairo speech in last June, his administration have engaged American Muslim advocates in policy discussions and, among others, top White House aides have provided them with briefing in regards to the health care reform, foreign policy issues, economic reform, immigration issues and national security. The White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General, Eric Holder are among the people who have privately met with Muslim advocates according to the NYT.

Court decides Ashcroft can be sued

The full Western appeals court voted to let stand its earlier decision that former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is not immune from a civil action charge. The case is related to Abdullah Kidd, a Kansas-born Muslim convert, whom Mr. Ashcroft have had him arrested without probable cause. Ashcroft had petitioned the Court of Appeals for rehearing of his claim of immunity. The petition has been denied and Mr. Kidd can now proceed with his lawsuit charging former Attorney General with violating his Constitutional rights.

Wilders loses bid to stop his pending trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims

Far-right lawmaker and filmmaker Geert Wilders has lost a legal bid to stop his pending trial for inciting hatred ad discrimination against Muslims. “The Attorney-General is of the opinion that there are no grounds” for a further appeal, the Dutch Supreme Court said in a statement. Lawyers for Wilders sought to overturn a ruling but the Amsterdam appeals court that he should be prosecuted for a series of public anti-Muslim sentiments – and in particular, for comparing Islam to Nazism. The appeals court judgment followed numerous complaints form citizens over the prosecution service’s initial refusal to press charges against Wilders. Wilder, 45, is the maker of a 17-minute film, Fitna, which has been called “offensively anti-Islamic” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Michigan Muslim group says FBI is asking people to spy

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.

The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.