Linda Sarsour: Why this has been the worst year for American Muslims since 9/11

The number of hate crimes against members of the Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities has dramatically increased. There is a growing disconnect between freedom of speech and the freedom to practice religion without fear or intimidation: Increasingly, irresponsible and rhetorical bullying is leading to violent acts against a vulnerable minority.
Recent articles have questioned the shady practices of FBI counterterrorism strategies: Informants have been sought out and coerced through torture; fictitious entrapment scenarios have been created; and in the midst of this there are still many unanswered questions about the shooting of a black Muslim man under surveillance by a joint terrorism task force in Boston. Where was law enforcement when a white man from Georgia plantedProtesters a bomb in a city park in order to sow fear against Muslims?

US: Terrorism Prosecutions Often An Illusion [PDF DOWNLOAD]

July 21, 2014

DOWNLOAD FULL PDF REPORT: Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions

Investigations, Trials of American Muslims Rife with Abuse

(Washington, DC) –The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism “sting operations” based on religious and ethnic identity, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute said in a report released today. Many of the more than 500 terrorism-related cases prosecuted in US federal courts since September 11, 2001, have alienated the very communities that can help prevent terrorist crimes.

The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,”examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

The report is based on more than 215 interviews with people charged with or convicted of terrorism-related crimes, members of their families and their communities, criminal defense attorneys, judges, current and former federal prosecutors, government officials, academics, and other experts.

In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act. Multiple studies have found that nearly 50 percent of the federal counterterrorism convictions since September 11, 2001, resulted from informant-based cases. Almost 30 percent were sting operations in which the informant played an active role in the underlying plot.

“The US government should stop treating American Muslims as terrorists-in-waiting,” Prasow said. “The bar on entrapment in US law is so high that it’s almost impossible for a terrorism suspect to prove. Add that to law enforcement preying on the particularly vulnerable, such as those with mental or intellectual disabilities, and the very poor, and you have a recipe for rampant human rights abuses.”

These abuses have had an adverse impact on American Muslim communities. The government’s tactics to seek out terrorism suspects, at times before the target has demonstrated any intention to use violence, has undercut parallel efforts to build relationships with American Muslim community leaders and groups that may be critical sources of information to prevent terrorist attacks.

In some communities, these practices have deterred interaction with law enforcement. Some Muslim community members said that fears of government surveillance and informant infiltration have meant they must watch what they say, to whom, and how often they attend services.

“Far from protecting Americans, including American Muslims, from the threat of terrorism, the policies documented in this report have diverted law enforcement from pursuing real threats,” Prasow said. “It is possible to protect people’s rights and also prosecute terrorists, which increases the chances of catching genuine criminals.”

“You Might Get Hit by a Car”: On Secret Tape, FBI Threatens American Muslim Refusing to be Informant

New details have emerged about the FBI’s efforts to turn Muslim Americans living abroad into government informants. An exposé in Mother Jones magazine chronicles the story of an American named named Naji Mansour who was living in Kenya. After he refused to become an informant, he saw his life, and his family’s life, turned upside down. He was detained, repeatedly interrogated and ultimately forced into exile in Sudan, unable to see his children for years. Mansour began recording his conversations with the FBI. During one call, an agent informs Mansour that he might get “hit by a car.” Mansour’s story is the focus of a new piece in Mother Jones titled “This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant. Then the Government Made His Family’s Life Hell.” We speak with Naji Mansour in Sudan and Nick Baumann, who investigated the story for Mother Jones.

Man Is Accused of Jihadist Plot to Bomb a Bar in Chicago

An 18-year-old suburban Chicago man, who the authorities say was enamored with Osama bin Laden and intent on killing Americans, has been arrested after attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar, officials said Saturday. There was never any danger that the suspect, Adel Daoud, would actually detonate a bomb. The plot, which ended with Mr. Daoud’s arrest on Friday, was proposed by undercover F.B.I. agents posing as extremists, according to a statement released by the United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.

Mr. Daoud, a United States citizen who lives in Hillside, Ill., on the outskirts of Chicago, has been under surveillance for months, and in multiple conversations with agents expressed a desire to kill on a mass scale as revenge for what he believed was the persecution of Muslims by the United States, according to court papers.

Adel Daoud first came to the attention of the authorities in October 2011, when he sent out e-mails “relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans,” according to an affidavit in support of the complaint. At one point he sent out several e-mails with a PowerPoint presentation titled “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” in which he defended Bin Laden’s tactics.

“Osama wasn’t crazy for wanting to destroy America,” he wrote. “This superpower killed millions of people.”

Mr. Daoud remained in custody after being charged in United States District Court on Saturday with one count of an attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempting to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive.

Lawyers for the defendants in such cases have typically accused the government of entrapment, arguing that their clients would never have acted without being coerced by undercover agents.

Muslim Group Outraged with Cambridge City Council’s Decision to Give Funds to Citizen’s Advice Bureau

12 May 2012

 

£20 Million has been given to local authorities as a part of the Prevent Strategy, which was introduced by the previous labour government to prevent British Muslim youth from being recruited by ‘radical groups’ after the 7/7 bombings. The money has been used in joint projects with Muslim groups to educate them against radicalization.

 

However, aside from the criticism against the policy which was labelled as surveillance and entrapment of Muslims by some Muslim organization, the projects that the money was spent on have also been a subject of controversy. Many people have been sceptical about the appropriate expenditure of the funds.

 

The Muslim Council of Cambridgeshire’s (CMC) recent statement which lambasted the City Council for allocating the funds to a different project yet again has drawn attention to problems with the Prevent Strategy.

Terrorism case comes together against Muslim-American ‘wannabomber’

PORTLAND, Ore. — A year ago, a tall, skinny teen named Mohamed Mohamud stepped out of an SUV just north of Portland’s Union Station. There, according to the FBI, the Somali-born American punched 10 digits into a cell phone believing it would ignite a vanload of explosives 16 blocks away—where a Christmas tree lighting ceremony was due to take place.

The 19-year-old became one of America’s accused “wannabombers.” The bomb he allegedly tried to ignite was a harmless fake rigged by the FBI and presented to him by undercover operatives posing as Islamic terrorists. Their suspect, charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, was part of a series of FBI terrorism stings since 9/11.

Government officials have praised the stings as a means of preventing terrorists from harming people on U.S. soil. In some cases, the FBI has supplied suspects with money, transportation and realistic weapons — including surface-to-air missiles.

Defense lawyers, including Mohamud’s, argue that the operations amount to illegal entrapment. Mohamud became the 14th and youngest suspect to mount an entrapment defense in one of the FBI’s stings. The 13 men who previously argued entrapment have been tried, found guilty and sent to prison for terms ranging from six years to life.

Mohamud’s trial is set for May 15.

First congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslim

Despite the comparative lack of attention, the session chaired by Durbin (D-Ill.) made history as the first congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims. About 50 people waited in line for the door of 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building to open, including a half-dozen high school students who had been sleeping on the floor since about 7 a.m. It was 90 minutes shorter, with noticeably less security and media attention — and fewer fireworks. But Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s hearing Tuesday on Muslim civil rights featured the same partisan sparring and many of the same arguments as Rep. Peter T. King’s hearing on Muslim radicals just three weeks ago.

Like the Homeland Security Committee hearing chaired by King (R-N.Y.), Tuesday’s Judiciary subcommittee session attracted Muslim leaders, civil liberties attorneys, curious graduate students and advocates for everything from conservative Christian marriage to interfaith tolerance.

Nearly a decade after 9/11, anti-Muslim harassment cases are now the largest category of religious discrimination in education cases. In addition, there has been a 163 percent increase in workplace complaints from Muslims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since the 2001 attacks, Perez said.

The hearing seemed to crystallize some of the key arguments made in current discussions about Islam: The importance of Muslims cooperating with law enforcement vs. some Muslims’ wariness of officials who they suspect of entrapment. Concern about discrimination against Muslims vs. concern about Muslims being discriminated against in their own community for being too outspoken against radicalization. Whether the rise in anti-Muslim incidents is being overblown when the vast majority of discrimination complaints reported to the FBI are about discrimination against Jews.