Minnesota’s Somali-Americans Urge New Treatment for Would-Be Terrorists

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ordered three young men accused of plotting to travel to Syriato fight for the Islamic State kept in detention while awaiting trial, at least for now. That decision came after the defense argued that entrusting the men immediately to their families and Somali-American leaders was the best way to insulate them from radical Islam.

But United States District Judge Michael J. Davis, in a shift from what other federal judges have done in similar cases involving young people accused of being Islamic State recruits, signaled a willingness to revisit his decision in the coming months.  “This is way too important for us to treat it as a regular criminal case,” Judge Davis said at the end of the third hearing. “It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.”

But some Muslim leaders here are trying to make a different case: that the best way to push young people away from militant Islamic groups is to keep them engaged with their community, with responsible clerics and their relatives.  Such an approach, they say, would be a humane counterpoint to the terrorist narrative that the American justice system is anti-Muslim and strictly punitive.

Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)
Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)

US Appeals Court Revives SC Solitary Confinement Challenge Based on Religious Rights

In a unanimous ruling Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said evidence shows that Lumumba Incumma has never received any meaningful review of his solitary confinement, despite having no administrative infractions over the last two decades.
Incumma was placed in solitary confinement after he and other members of the Nation of Gods and Earths, an offshoot of the Nation of Islam, staged a prison riot in 1995.
He also claimed that his around-the-clock segregation violated his religious rights, but the appeals court said a judge was correct in rejecting that claim.

5 years later, Fla.-Va. terrorism case in limbo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For five years, a federal judge upset with the prosecution of a Florida professor once accused of being a leading terrorist has simply refused to rule on his case. It’s left the government unable to deport him, unable to prosecute him, and flummoxed on how to move forward.

In April 2009, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told lawyers she would rule “soon” on whether to dismiss criminal contempt charges filed in Virginia against former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, a longtime prominent Palestinian activist, who refused to testify in a separate terror-related investigation.

The ruling hasn’t come, and nothing has happened in the case. The delay is unusual for Alexandria’s federal courthouse, known in legal circles as the Rocket Docket for its swift disposition of cases. Legal experts say they can’t think of a similar case elsewhere that has languished for so long.

On the surface at least, Al-Arian — who has declined to invoke his speedy trial rights — benefits from his silence and the standoff. If the Virginia case were dropped, Al-Arian, 56, born in Kuwait to Palestinian refugees before coming to the U.S. in 1975, would be deported under the terms of a Florida plea.

Al-Arian’s critics said he was a leader of one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world — the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — and that he used his position as a computer science professor as a base to quietly raise money for attacks. His supporters saw a man who was trapped by anti-Muslim hysteria, unfairly snared in a vague, amorphous web of guilt-by-association when his real goal was to help his native people in the Palestinian territories.

In 2003, federal prosecutors in Florida filed an indictment alleging Al-Arian was a leader of the terrorist group and complicit in the murder of innocent civilians. A jury acquitted him on numerous counts, and was hung on others. A mistrial was declared.

Pete White, a former prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia who is now a defense attorney, said it is rare for a criminal case to sit this long under these circumstances, especially in the Rocket Docket. There are no official statistics that document the rarity of a criminal case sitting in limbo for such a long time, but White and others said they could not think of a similar case, especially one that grew out of a terror-related investigation.

White said the only option prosecutors have to propel the case forward would be to file something called a writ of mandamus against Brinkema — basically asking another judge to order her to take action.

Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians

Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he remarked January 17 at the event in Jackson, Mississippi. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”

He later said the “pursuit of happiness” meant following God’s law, because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”

“It’s all about God,” he continued. “We’ve made ‘life’ a decision taken by man,” he said, and “taken ‘liberty,’ and converted it to ‘licentiousness. We’ve taken ‘pursuit of happiness,’ and reduced it to materialism.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Alabama’s governor and attorney general to reaffirm the constitutional rights of all that state’s citizens after video surfaced in which Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court seemed to claim that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us.” Justice Moore went on to state: “They didn’t bring the Koran [Islam’s revealed text] over on the pilgrim ship.”

The FBI Is Trying To Recruit Muslims As Snitches By Putting Them On No-Fly Lists

April 22, 2014

 

Awais Sajjad, a lawful permanent U.S. resident living in the New York area, learned he was on the no-fly list in September 2012 after he tried to board a flight to Pakistan at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was turned back.

At the airport, FBI agents questioned Sajjad, a Muslim, before releasing him. But they later returned with an offer. In exchange for working for them, the FBI could provide him with U.S. citizenship and compensation. The FBI, the agents reminded Sajjad, also had the power to decide who was on the no-fly list.

When he refused, the FBI agents “kept him on the list in order to pressure and coerce Mr. Sajjad to sacrifice his constitutionally-protected rights,” according to an amended lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in New York.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Sajjad and three other men, accuses the United States of violating their rights by placing or keeping them on the no-fly list after they declined to spy on local Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey and Nebraska.

“The no-fly list is supposed to be about ensuring aviation safety, but the FBI is using it to force innocent people to become informants,” said Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law at the City University of New York. “The practice borders on extortion.”

The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project, which Kassem supervises, and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit on behalf of the men.

In the case of; Dr Rahinah Ibrahim, who is not a national security threat.

It took a lawsuit that has stretched for eight years for the feds to yield that admission. It is one answer in a case that opened up many more questions: How did an innocent Malaysian architectural scholar remain on a terrorism no fly-list—effectively branded a terrorist—for years after a FBI paperwork screw up put her there? The answer to that question, to paraphrase a particularly hawkish former Secretary of Defense, may be unknowable.

Last week, there was a depressing development in the case. A judge’s decision was made public and it revealed that the White House has created at least one “secret exception” to the legal standard that federal authorities use to place people on such lists. This should trouble anyone who cares about niggling things like legal due process or the US Constitution. No one is clear what the exception is, because it’s secret—duh—meaning government is basically placing people on terror watchlists that can ruin their lives without explaining why or how they landed on those lists in the first place.

Ibrahim’s attorney, Elizabeth Pipkin, said she can’t say for sure how the authorities first became interested in her client. “That was speculation on our part,” she said. “The sad thing is, even after eight years of litigation, we weren’t able to get to the bottom of what was the underlying information that lead an FBI agent to her door and brought this whole thing about.”

But as great as a “Feds Suck at Googling” headline would be, it could be even more simple and ridiculous. According to one judge, an FBI agent made a basic paperwork error by filling out the form the opposite way from the instructions: ticking the lists she thought Ibrahim should not be on rather than the ones that she should. That screw up might be to blame for turning eight years of her life into a hellish pit of litigation.

In 2007, a Justice Department audit found that the “management of the watchlist continues to have weaknesses” and that the department needed “to further improve its efforts for ensuring the accuracy of the watchlist records.”

U.S. citizens have also been stranded abroad and never told why they couldn’t fly home. Yahye Wehelie, who was raised in Fairfax County, couldn’t leave Egypt for weeks in 2010; he was stopped in Cairo on his way to Yemen to find a wife.

In a previous interview with The Washington Post, Wehelie said FBI agents asked him if he was willing to inform on the Muslim community in his area when he got home.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawsuit-alleges-fbi-is-using-no-fly-list-to-force-muslims-to-become-informants/2014/04/22/1a62f566-ca27-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

Vice.com: http://www.vice.com/read/no-fly-list-rahinah-ibrahim-danny-mcdonald?utm_source=vicefbus

A judge issues the first condemnation for Islamophobia in Catalonia

March 5, 2014

 

The Judge of a Barcelona Court, ​​María Pilar Calvo, has condemned Jaime T., the website administrator of “denunciascivicas.com”, to two years in prison for inciting hate and violence against Islam and for disseminating anti-Islamic beliefs. The condemnation is the first Islamophobia related condemnation in Catalonia.

Denunciascivicas.com, which has received at least 21,240 visits, contains material praising the Third Reich in Germany. It also encourages readers to carry out similar crimes against Muslims.

Police arrested the IT administrator in March 2011 and seized all kinds of xenophobic paraphernalia, such as photos of Adolf Hitler and swastikas, along with numerous videos from his computer which show him making anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim speeches.

But the man’s two-year sentence judgment — the first for Islamophobia in Catalonia — may be suspended if the defendant agrees to attend a human rights course and does not commit a new crime within three years.

In Catalonia the legal framing of anti-racist and anti-xenophobic laws is defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, by the Autonomous Status of Catalonia, Organic law 6/2006 from 19 of July 2006 and by the Organic Law of 4/2000.

 

http://www.thelocal.es/20140305/a-judge-gives-first-conviction-for-islamophobia-in-catalunya

http://www.diba.cat/documents/29578/9eaca6eb-7020-46b8-933c-a789eba1a686

http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Admin/lo4-2000.t1.html

Lee Rigby murderers sentenced to life in prison

February 26, 2014

 

The two religious fanatics who murdered Lee Rigby screamed a final act of defiance in court on Wednesday as they fought with guards and were dragged from the dock prior to receiving a whole-life and life sentence respectively for their killing of the 25-year-old soldier. In dramatic scenes Michael Adebolajo shouted “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is the Greatest” before being told he would die behind bars while Michael Adebowale joined the outburst, saying that “Britain and America would never be safe”. The pair were restrained and wrestled to the ground before being taken down to the cells. Their cries had been retaliation to the judge’s conclusion that their barbaric act had been a “betrayal of Islam”.

The judge said the 29-year-old Adebolajo had “no prospect of rehabilitation” as he handed him the ultimate sentence available. 22-year-old Adebowale’s defence team said a whole-life sentence would have been “inhuman” and he was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 45 years – saved from a whole-life tariff because of his age.

Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch made a PR error in the wake of the sentencing of Lee Rigby’s killers. Mensch tweeted: “One of the aims of #LeeRigby’s murderers was to stir up religious hatred and we must not allow them to succeed in their aim. #Islam #Peace” and trying to convince her followers she was in touch with British Muslims she tweeted:

“When I think of British Muslims I think of @Mo_Farah @SayeedaWarsi @RaheemJKassam @SunnyHundal @YasminQureshiMP &c not these fools #LeeRigby”

However Sunny Hundal was born to Sikh parents of Indian origin and despite having a beard, is not Muslim. He tweeted back at her “Erm, I’m not Muslim Louise. Parents are Sikh”. After Twitter users criticised her for her mistake, Mensch argued: “I’ve thought he was Muslim for ages. Based on his politics, tweets.” However this spawned the hashtag #tweetlikeamuslim with users tweeting things like “Crikey that’s a nice minaret”, whilst others tweeted “I’m not Muslim Louise.”

Sunny Hundal told The Independent that he is not a Muslim and that he plans to tweet like a Sikh from now on.

 

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10662836/Lee-Rigby-murderers-sentenced-to-life-in-prison.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10663351/Lee-Rigby-his-killers.html

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/26/lee-rigby-killers-michael-adebolajo-adebowale-whole-life-ruling

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-michael-adebolajo-and-michael-adebowale-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-9155196.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/louise-mensch-thinks-the-real-face-of-british-islam-is-a-man-of-sikh-heritage-9156788.html

Slapping his wife: ”A Muslim woman cannot pour wine at a bar”

February 9, 2014

 

Milan – A husband had allowed his wife to work in the bar, but on the condition that she was limited to help in the kitchen. “Instead she poured wine to customers. But we are Muslims” he said in front of a judge “a woman should not even set foot in the bar. This thing is a disgrace to my family.”

So to make it clear to his wife, Abdel I., a 50 year-old Moroccan, according to the indictment began to insult her and attack her by hitting her in front of their two small children. Abdel was charged with harassment and beatings, and in recent days the judge sentenced him to one year in prison with probation and a fine of 7,500 Euros for compensation in addition to the reimbursement of his ex-wife’s legal fees.

And to think that instead she could have remained quietly at home where she needed to be, said Abdel, “I would come home just after six in the evening and without her I had to feed the kids, then take them to bed, and let them sleep …”. So he started to get nervous, so he surprised his wife at work who was pouring wine for the local customers.

 

Il Giorno: http://www.ilgiorno.it/milano/cronaca/2014/02/09/1023002-violenza-moglie-musulmana.shtml

 

Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

January 30, 2014

 

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed an agreement proposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city to reach a settlement in its legal battle over the controversial NYPD “stop-and-frisk” policy.
That policy involved stopping, questioning and frisking people in primarily African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Last year, a federal judge found that the police tactic was unconstitutional, calling it “a policy of indirect racial profiling.”

The mayor and the Center for Constitutional Rights announced a deal to drop the city’s appeal of a court ruling and that would accept the remedies ordered by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin including the appointment of outside monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, to oversee reforms.
In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”
The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, found that the department’s stop-and-frisk tactics were unconstitutional, and that it had resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.” At the height of the program, in the first quarter of 2012, the police stopped people — mostly black and Latino men — on more than 200,000 occasions. A vast majority of those stopped were found to have done nothing wrong.

Judge Scheindlin had ordered the appointment of a monitor to develop, in consultation with the parties, widespread reforms of the department’s “policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline regarding stop-and-frisk.” That process will go forward as part of the agreement.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/nyregion/de-blasio-stop-and-frisk.html?_r=0
Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12351-cair-ny-welcomes-mayors-deal-to-end-nypd-stop-and-frisk.html

DA: Close court for part of NYC terror-plot trial

January 29, 2014

 

Prosecutors want to keep testimony by three key witnesses — an undercover police officer and two informants — out of public view at the trial of a man charged with plotting terror attacks with homemade bombs, a case in which police tactics are likely to become a central issue.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office wants the three to testify anonymously and in a closed courtroom at Jose Pimentel’s trial, set to start next month. A judge didn’t immediately rule on the issue at a hearing Wednesday, but he noted that there’s a high legal bar for closing courtrooms.

Prosecutors say the undercover officer and informants could be imperiled if their identities became public. But Pimentel’s lawyers say the court should stay open so the public gets a full picture of how police dealt with him during a two-year investigation.
Pimentel, a Dominican-born al-Qaida sympathizer also known as Muhammad Yusuf, maintained a website advocating jihad, or holy war, against the United States, police and prosecutors said.

He talked with one of the informants about killing soldiers, assassinating a judge or bombing police stations or the George Washington Bridge, prosecutors said. He was arrested while making a pipe bomb in the informant’s apartment in November 2011, authorities said.
American law strongly favors public trials, but courts have been closed to protect witnesses’ safety, shield classified government information, avoid traumatizing child witnesses or keep an undercover agent’s identity under wraps so he or she can continue covert work.

“Courts have to be very careful when they do this,” Pace Law School professor Bennett L. Gershman said, because appellate judges have sometimes reversed convictions when they found courtrooms were wrongly closed. In general, a judge has to establish that there’s a compelling reason to keep the public out and consider whether less restrictive alternatives would work.

Most terrorism cases are federal, but Pimentel was charged under a rarely used state terrorism law passed shortly after the Sept. 11attacks. The 29-year-old could face up to life in prison if convicted.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/da-close-court-for-part-of-nyc-terror-plot-trial/2014/01/29/6df2ac54-8917-11e3-a760-a86415d0944d_story.html