November 11, 2013
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR–FL) organized the particiaption of South Florida Muslims veterans in the November 8 Miami-Dade County Golden Veterans Parade 50th Anniversary Commemoration.
The parade was an initiative of County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and the Miami-Dade County Military Affairs Board, and with the support of 34 Miami-Dade municipalities, local military organizations and a diverse group of community leaders.
Attorney Wilfredo A. Ruiz, legal counsel for CAIR-FL and a Navy veteran officer who served in the JAGC Corps and in the Chaplain Corps, participated in the parade.
Ruiz, who is also the Secretary for the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board, said: “This type of event is necessary and welcomed as it honors those who have served this nation. It is good that the general public witness Muslim veterans of America participating because it is another way for them to realize that our community is an active contributor in upholding our most cherished values of liberty and democracy.”
MIAMI — An elderly Muslim cleric was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison following his convictions on terrorism support charges for sending tens of thousands of dollars overseas to finance the Pakistani Taliban, which has launched numerous violent attacks against both Pakistan’s government and U.S. targets.
Hafiz Khan, 78, had faced up to 60 years behind bars on four terrorism support-related charges. But U.S. District Judge Robert Scola opted for less than the maximum term, although it is 10 years more than the sentence recommended by federal prosecutors.
The case against Khan, who was imam at a Miami mosque prior to his 2011 arrest, was built on hundreds of FBI recordings of both telephone calls and Khan’s face-to-face conversations with an undercover informant. In the calls, Khan discusses details of numerous wire transfers to Pakistan over a three-year period that totaled about $50,000.
“I did not send one dollar to the terrorists or the fighting Taliban,” Khan said. “I am absolutely against the terrorists and the violence.”
Two of Khan’s sons, Izhar and Irfan, were initially charged along with their father but the charges against them were dismissed. Three others in the indictment, including Khan’s daughter, remain free in Pakistan, which will not allow them to be extradited to the U.S.
MIAMI — The U.S. government on Wednesday defended the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo, urging a judge to reject a legal challenge to the practice filed by four prisoners taking part in an ongoing protest at the U.S. base in Cuba.
Feeding the prisoners with a nasogastric tube is to prevent their death is “humane,” done in a way to minimize any pain, lawyers for the Department of Justice wrote in a legal brief filed in federal court in Washington.
The Justice Department filing urged the court not to issue a preliminary injunction against the feeding procedure, saying it would amount to authorizing “a detainee to commit suicide by starvation.”
Lawyers for four prisoners on hunger strike filed the challenge Sunday, arguing that feeding the men against their will was a violation of their human rights and served no legitimate interest. They also said it would deprive them of their religious right to the traditional daytime fast during the upcoming Muslim holy period of Ramadan.
MIAMI (AP) — Prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay are asking a federal court to halt the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers to keep them alive.
A motion filed in Washington on behalf of four men held at the base in Cuba says the practice violates medical ethics and is inhumane. They say it will also deprive prisoners of the ability to observe the traditional fast for the upcoming Muslim holy period of Ramadan.
Syrian prisoner Jihad Dhiab says he is well aware that he could die if he is not force-fed.
The U.S. says 106 prisoners are on hunger strike as of Monday in a protest over their indefinite confinement. The Miami-based U.S. Southern Command says the military remains committed to feeding prisoners to prevent protest deaths.
April 8, 2013
Understanding Islam is a short introduction to the Muslim Culture worldwide. The book is by Matthew S. Gordon, a history professor at Miami University in Ohio. The book focuses on key themes: the origin and development, religious elements, sacred texts, important people, principle ethics, sacred spaces, sacred history and Islamic society.
As I reported in a piece for the print magazine last summer, Florida has emerged as sort of the Thunderdome of the anti-Shariah movement, with a host of lawmakers at the municipal, state, and federal level working hand-in-hand with a dedicated group of activists to combat the invisible spectre of Islamic law. Shariah isn’t coming to South Florida, but that hasn’t stopped the state legislature from trying—again—to ban it from being used in state courts.
On Friday, the South Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations blasted out this video, in which state Sen. Alan Hays, the bill’s Republican sponsor, compares stopping Shariah to getting a polio vaccination:
By all accounts, Hays considers the threat posed by Islamic law quite dire. The Miami Herald reported earlier in March that the senator had distributed anti-Shariah literature in the halls of the state capitol. Per the Herald, the fliers “present Islam as a threat to the United States,” and invoke lawmakers to pass legislation to “save us from an internal attack” and “protect our freedom.”
That is, if the pythons don’t get us first.
PLANTATION, Fla. — Standing on a Pakistani mountainside with a suspected Taliban fighter, FBI undercover informant David Mahmood Siddiqui remembers thinking, he could have been sent hurtling off a cliff to his death with just a nudge. In such dangerous situations, Siddiqui said he always tried to hold a Quran tightly in his hands.
“As long as you have a Quran in your hands,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Friday, “they (the Taliban) will not harm you.”
Siddiqui, a 58-year-old Pakistani-American who became a U.S. citizen in 1977, spent four years helping the FBI build its case against Hafiz Muhammad Sher Ali Khan, who was convicted Monday of terrorism support and conspiracy charges. Evidence during his two-month trial showed that Khan, the 77-year-old imam at a Miami mosque, funneled about $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S.
Siddiqui wore an FBI wire to record thousands of conversations with Khan. Prosecutors made heavy use of the evidence Siddiqui gathered, playing dozens of those recordings in court.
Wearing the wire to surreptitiously record talks with Khan was dangerous enough. But in September 2010, the FBI sent Siddiqui to Pakistan’s Swat Valley to meet up with some of people who were getting Khan’s money. With Khan’s grandson Alam Zeb as his driver — Zeb is a suspected Taliban fighter also indicted by the U.S. in the Khan case — Siddiqui spent three weeks gathering intelligence.
MIAMI — Testifying via video from Pakistan, a man accused by the U.S. of conspiring with an elderly Miami-based Muslim cleric to funnel thousands of dollars to Taliban terrorists insisted Monday the money was for innocent purposes, including a potato chip factory run by the cleric’s son-in-law.
Ali Rehman was the first of as many as 11 witnesses expected to testify from an Islamabad hotel in defense of 77-year-old Hafiz Khan, who faces four terrorism support and conspiracy counts. Rehman is named in the same indictment and refused to come to the U.S. Other witnesses were unable to get U.S. visas in time.
He spoke in Pashto that was translated into English for the 12-person jury watching him on flat-screen televisions.
Rehman kept a three-page ledger detailing most of the transactions, which jurors were shown. “I was just the middle man to give the money to him.”
Rehman said he and Khan disagreed with the Taliban’s tactics of using violence and force to impose their version of Muslim law. Rehman said he was personally threatened by Taliban fighters who ordered him to remove products containing women’s pictures from a cosmetics store he owns.
If convicted, Khan faces up to 15 years in prison on each of four charges. Two of Khan’s sons were originally accused as well, but prosecutors dropped the charges against one and U.S. District Judge Robert Scola dismissed the case against the other for lack of evidence.