Authorities: NYC man threatened Muslim advocate

June 16, 2014

NEW YORK — A New York City man was charged Monday with sending emails threatening to kill a leader of a Muslim civil rights group. 

The man, Bernhard Laufer, had been expected to appear later Monday in federal court in Brooklyn but instead was taken to the hospital for undisclosed reasons. There was no immediate response to a phone message left with his attorney. 

According to a criminal complaint, Laufer began sending the emails last year to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group identified the recipient as its national executive director, Nihad Awad. 

Laufer, 56, was already facing attempted murder charges alleging he stabbed a man at a Queens mosque in 2012 while yelling, “I will kill you Muslim.” He was out on $200,000 bail when he sent an email accusing the Muslim group of framing him, warning, “CAIR will now be destroyed,” court papers say. 

In a statement, CAIR called the case “another incident demonstrating the actual, imminent harm that can result from Islamophobia.” 

Washington: Arrested Man Is Accused of Seeking to Join Militants in Syria

March 18, 2014

 

A California man who prosecutors said was on his way to Syria to join a Qaeda group was arrested on Monday near the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., on a terrorism charge, federal officials said. The Department of Justice said in a statement that the man, Nicholas Teausant, 20, an American-born convert to Islam, had planned to cross into Canada and travel to Syria to join Islamist militants. A student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., he was also a private in the United States Army National Guard but was in the process of being released as of December, according to the complaint.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/us/politics/washington-arrested-man-is-accused-of-seeking-to-join-militants-in-syria.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%231&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry19%23%2FIslam%2F7days%2Fallresults%2F2%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

Jury Selection Begins at Trial of Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law

March 4, 2014

 

In the days and weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, a Kuwaiti-born cleric, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, became a familiar figure in propaganda videos for Al Qaeda, appearing in some with Osama bin Laden, and other times alone, issuing blistering threats against the United States.

“The storms shall not stop, especially the airplanes storm,” he said in one speech, a federal indictment charges. Mr. Abu Ghaith, who later married Bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, was captured last year and brought to the United States on terrorism charges. His trial started on Monday in Manhattan with jury selection which resumes on Tuesday morning. He is the most senior Bin Laden adviser to be tried in a civilian court since the Sept. 11 attacks, experts say.

“Abu Ghaith held a key position in Al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” George Venizelos, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in New York, said last year. Unlike Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Abu Ghaith has not been accused of having advance knowledge of the attacks or being involved in terrorist operations. But prosecutors portray him as a trusted adviser and confidant of Bin Laden’s, and they believe he was probably aware of the plot in which Richard C. Reid tried unsuccessfully to blow up an airplane on a trans-Atlantic flight by detonating explosives in his shoes.

The trial, coming more than four years after the disputed and since abandoned plan to try Mr. Mohammed in Manhattan, may further the debate over whether international terrorism cases should be tried in civilian court.
Mr. Abu Ghaith, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support for terrorists; if convicted, he could face life in prison. The New York Police Department declined recently to discuss any security measures related to the trial, which is expected to last about a month. “This is a high-profile case,” Stephen Davis, the department’s top spokesman, said, “and we’ll take the necessary steps to ensure safety in and around the courthouse and the city.”

At least two men who had been involved in terrorism who are now cooperating with the authorities are expected to testify for the government against Mr. Abu Ghaith. They are believed to be Saajid Badat, who had agreed to carry out a shoe-bomb attack but later backed out, and Sahim Alwan, a member of the “Lackawanna Six,” a group of Buffalo-area Yemeni-Americans.
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/nyregion/bin-laden-relatives-trial-may-fuel-debate-over-trying-terrorism-cases-in-civilian-courts.html?action=click&module=Search&_r=0
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/nyregion/bin-laden-aide-began-qaeda-propaganda-day-after-9-11-us-says.html?action=click&module=Search&gwh=677A49224F0D0A3EC6B79A8BBC5455C8&gwt=regi

Supreme Court Agrees to Weigh Arkansas Inmate’s Right to Grow a Beard

February 28, 2014

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether prison officials in Arkansas may prohibit inmates from growing beards in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The policy was challenged by Gregory H. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery. Mr. Holt said his Muslim faith required him to grow a beard.

The state’s policy allows trimmed mustaches, along with quarter-inch beards for those with dermatological problems. Prison officials said the ban on other facial hair was needed to promote “health and hygiene,” to minimize “opportunities for disguise” and to help prevent the concealment of contraband.

Mr. Holt sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prison officials to show that policies that burden religious practices advance a compelling penological interest and use the least restrictive means to do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in June that the justifications offered by the officials satisfied that standard.

Mr. Holt filed a handwritten petition in September asking the justices to hear his case, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827, pointing out that other courts had struck down policies banning beards in prisons. In an interim order in November, the Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Holt be allowed to grow a half-inch beard.

 

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/supreme-court-agrees-to-weigh-arkansas-inmates-right-to-grow-a-beard.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0

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

More charges for NY man in X-ray weapon case

January 17, 2014

 

An upstate New York man accused of trying to build an X-ray weapon to hurt and kill people at a mosque and an Islamic center faces additional weapons charges. Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment late Thursday against Glendon Scott Crawford, charging the 49-year-old man with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, distributing information related to such weapons and attempting to produce a device to endanger people by releasing radiation.

Crawford and Eric Feight have been jailed since their arrest in June on charges they assembled a mobile X-ray device meant to be used in the greater Albany area to sicken Muslims and enemies of Israel. Authorities say the device was inoperable. Nobody was hurt. Crawford’s attorney declined to comment Friday. Feight wasn’t named in the indictment.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/more-charges-for-ny-man-in-x-ray-weapon-case/2014/01/17/011466ec-7fce-11e3-97d3-b9925ce2c57b_story.html

NY judge rules against ex-bin Laden spokesman

November 26, 2013

 

Statements Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law made to U.S. authorities when he was brought to the United States earlier this year can be used against him at a terrorism trial next year, a federal judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected claims by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith that he was not properly informed of his right to a lawyer and that he was abused on a 14-hour flight to the U.S. earlier this year. He also refused to toss out the charges.

Abu Ghaith is scheduled for trial early next year on charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kaplan ruled after conducting a lengthy hearing. Abu Ghaith’s interview with FBI agents resulted in a 22-page statement after his Feb. 28 arrest in Jordan.

Kaplan said government agents who testified about the questioning of Abu Ghaith produced “consistent and credible testimony” while Abu Ghaith chose to rely on an affidavit rather than testify.

Kaplan said the “evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that Abu Ghaith was treated humanely while aboard the airplane.”

A month after 9/11, Abu Ghaith called on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”

“The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, God willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life,” he said in the Oct. 9, 2001, speech.

Two days before that, he sat with bin Laden and current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri against a rocky backdrop and spoke for nearly five minutes in one of the terror group’s most widely watched propaganda videos.

Abu Ghaith’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

 

AP: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ny-judge-rules-against-ex-bin-laden-spokesman

Wal-Mart fires employee at western NY store over Facebook posting criticizing Muslim customers


HAMBURG, N.Y. — Wal-Mart has fired an employee of a western New York store after he posted derogatory comments about Muslim customers on Facebook.

The firing follows a request by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Wal-Mart to discipline the assistant manager of the store in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo.

Terry Earsing, then an assistant manager, posted a photo of two women in traditional dress as they shopped at his Buffalo-area store and wrote profanity-laced criticisms beneath it. Earsing has apologized for what he calls a joke.

Along with a picture of Muslim women in traditional dress, the manager’s expletive-filled posting read: “Halloween came early this year. … Do they really have to … dress like that.”

A spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says company officials looked into the posting immediately upon learning about it and fired the employee.

 

A member of the local Muslim community spotted the comment and informed the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which in turn alerted Walmart executives.

 

NY Op Ed: Judging Rolling Stone by Its Cover

Maybe the hysteria about Rolling Stone’s August issue is heat-wave induced. That’s the only charitable explanation for the stampede of critics who have been accusing Rolling Stone editors of trying to turn Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man accused of the Boston Marathon bombing, into a rock star merely by putting him on the issue’s cover. (Never mind the word “monster” right there in big type.)

The drumbeat became so feverish that Walgreens, CVS and a few other stores have refused to sell the magazine. The mayor of Boston hyperventilated that it “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”

 

Stores have a right to refuse to sell products because, say, they are unhealthy, like cigarettes (which Walgreens and CVS, oops, both sell). Consumers have every right to avoid buying a magazine that offends them, like Guns & Ammo or Rolling Stone.

 

But singling out one magazine issue for shunning is over the top, especially since the photo has already appeared in a lot of prominent places, including the front page of this newspaper, without an outcry. As any seasoned reader should know, magazine covers are not endorsements.

NY Times Op Ed: More Overreach by the N.Y.P.D.

The revelation in 2011 that the New York City Police Department was spying on law-abiding Muslims rightly attracted scrutiny from the Justice Department, which announced last year that it intended to review the program. The disclosure also raised troubling questions about whether the city was violating a federal court order that bars it from retaining information gleaned from investigations of political activity unless there are reasonable indications of potential wrongdoing. The purpose of that order was to discourage unjustified surveillance and prevent police from peering into people’s private affairs and building dossiers on them without legitimate cause.

Now comes a new federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Muslim citizens and organizations saying they have been subjected to illegal surveillance that has disrupted Muslim houses of worship, made it difficult for congregants and their spiritual leaders to worship freely, and inhibited Muslims from openly associating with lawful Muslim charities and civic groups and exercising First Amendment rights.

One striking case in the complaint involves Masjid At-Taqwa, a mosque in Brooklyn, where the Police Department is alleged to have installed a surveillance camera, clearly marked with the department’s insignia and pointed at the mosque door. This seems curious because the mosque’s longtime leader, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, was said in the complaint to be a clergy liaison for the N.Y.P.D. Community Affairs Bureau and a member of the Majlis Ash-Shura, also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York.