Life Sentences Upheld for Brothers Convicted in Terror Plot

CAMDEN, N.J. — Three immigrant brothers sentenced to life in prison for plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix will not have their life sentences overturned.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler said in his ruling made public Tuesday that he didn’t buy the arguments from Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka that they were wrongly convicted in 2008 because their lawyers kept them from testifying.

Kugler ruled Friday that he found testimony from their defense attorneys at a January hearing more credible.

ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/life-sentences-upheld-brothers-convicted-terror-plot-39523260

Life Sentences Upheld for Brothers Convicted in Terror Plot

CAMDEN, N.J. — Three immigrant brothers sentenced to life in prison for plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix will not have their life sentences overturned.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler said in his ruling made public Tuesday that he didn’t buy the arguments from Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka that they were wrongly convicted in 2008 because their lawyers kept them from testifying.
Kugler ruled Friday that he found testimony from their defense attorneys at a January hearing more credible.

Ex-al-Qaida spokesman recalls 9/11 with bin Laden

March 19, 2014

 

NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law offered a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, recounting during surprise testimony Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom how the two met that night in a cave in Afghanistan.

“Did you learn about what happened … the attacks on the United States?” the son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recalled bin Laden asking him.

The testimony came as Abu Ghaith’s trial on charges he conspired to kill Americans and aid al-Qaida as a spokesman for the terrorist group took a dramatic turn. His decision to take the witness stand was announced by his lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who surprised a nearly empty courtroom that quickly filled with spectators as word spread.

Abu Ghaith testified that bin Laden seemed worried that night and asked what he thought would happen next. Abu Ghaith said he predicted America “will not settle until it accomplishes two things: to kill you and topple the state of the Taliban.”

Bin Laden responded: “’You’re being too pessimistic,’” Abu Ghaith recalled.

Abu Ghaith said he wasn’t involved in recruiting aspiring terrorists and denied allegations that he had prior knowledge of the failed shoe-bomb airline attack by Richard Reid in December 2001.

His lawyers said they were hopeful that another part of Abu Ghaith’s testimony, that he had met self-professed Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed, would cause the federal judge overseeing the trial to reconsider his decision to exclude Mohammed from testifying via videotape from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-al-qaida-spokesman-to-testify-at-new-york-trial/2014/03/19/2b2b3a5a-af71-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

Two L.A. gang members are apparently fighting for Syria’s Assad

March 3, 2014

 

Two Los Angeles gang members appear to have joined the flow of foreigners flocking to fight in Syria – in this instance, on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. In a video posted online, the two men boast that they are on the front lines and fire their guns in the direction of what they call “the enemigos.”

One of the men identifies himself as Creeper from the Sur-13 or Surenos, a loose affiliation of southern California gangs linked to the Mexican mafia. He rolls up his sleeves to show his gang tattoos and greets fellow gang members Capone-E and Crazy Loco.  The other says he is called Wino, and belongs to a gang called Westside Armenian Power. Members of the Armenian Christian minority in Syria are known to be staunch supporters of Assad.

The two men don’t reveal much about what they are doing or why they are fighting for Assad. “It’s Syria, homie, we’re in Syria, homie. … Frontline, homie, frontline, homie,” says Wino. “In Middle East, homie, in Syria, still gangbanging,” says Creeper, in comments typical of the 2 1/2-minute video.

Warning: the video, posted here, contains strong language. This version is provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, and contains subtitles.

It was also unclear whether they are U.S. citizens. So far, there have been no reported instances in which Americans have volunteered to fight in Syria on behalf of Assad, though at least 50 U.S. citizens are believed to have traveled there to join the rebels, according to congressional testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last month. Thousands of Arabs, Europeans and Sunni Muslims of other nationalities who have flooded into Syria, most of them joining radical Islamist groups.

Thousands of Iraqi and Lebanese Shiite Muslims are meanwhile reported to be fighting on the side of Assad’s government, as well as Iranians, some Russians and smaller numbers of Afghans, Pakistanis and other Arabs, making this a truly international war.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/03/03/two-l-a-gang-members-are-apparently-fighting-for-syrias-assad/

CAIR-AZ Condemns ADL’s Stereotyping of Muslims in Bill 1062 Debate

February 28, 2014

 

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today called on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to apologize for stereotypical statements made about Muslims during recent debate over Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from lawsuits if employees acted on religious beliefs to discriminate against customers.

In testimony before a state Senate committee the ADL’s assistant regional director posed a scenario in which, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”

“It is unconscionable that a group purporting to defend civil rights would resort to religious bigotry to promote its political agenda,” said CAIR-AZ Board Chair Imraan Siddiqi. “The introduction of this stereotypical scenario gave way to the narrative that Muslims are in some way serial abusers of ‘religious freedom based denials of service,’ which is completely baseless.”

Siddiqi noted that Muslims, like the majority of other Arizonans, believe that those serving the public must treat all customers equally, or be prepared to seek another line of work.

In 2010, CAIR’s New York chapter called on the ADL to retract its statement against the construction of an Islamic community center in New York City.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12390-cair-az-condemns-adl-stereotyping-of-muslims-in-bill-1062-debate.html

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect seeking family testimony, immigration records

November 7, 2013

 

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect seeking family testimony, immigration records
Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors should turn over all of the materials they have to give a full picture of Tsarnaev as Attorney General Eric Holder decides whether to seek the death penalty and possibly for a jury “to see Mr. Tsarnaev as a complete human being who should not be sentenced to death.”

In a memo filed in court last month, prosecutors said many of Tsarnaev’s requests for evidence are premature because a death penalty hearing in the case is not imminent. Prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz have not said whether they have recommended seeking the death penalty to Holder.

Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and 29 other federal charges in the April 15 bombing. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, built pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line, killing three people and injured more than 260. Seventeen of the charges carry a possible death penalty.

The Tsarnaevs, ethnic Chechens from Russia, moved to the United States as children. Authorities have said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote about his motivation for the bombing on the inside of a boat he was found hiding in after the shootout with police.

“The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians” and “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all,” he allegedly wrote.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors continue to withhold reports and testimony concerning Tsarnaev’s family, including immigration files they say contain information important to defend Tsarnaev and to argue mitigating factors during sentencing. They say that even after getting signed releases from certain Tsarnaev family members, immigration authorities have refused to release their files, citing the ongoing investigation.

His lawyers also said they believe numerous law enforcement interviews of teachers, neighbors, classmates and friends of Tsarnaev have not been turned over by prosecutors.

 

The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/lawyers-for-boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-seeking-family-testimony-to-give-full-picture/2013/11/07/c13e7114-47ee-11e3-95a9-3f15b5618ba8_story.html

The Converts to Islam

“What I like about Islam? Certainly the concept of individual responsibility, the lack of an intermediary between the believer and God because, in Islam, there is no confession and the imam is not a priest” says Alessandro Paolantoni, a 45 year old Roman who converted to Islam in 2001. “I testify that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The ritual is simple: one time Muslim converts verify the sincerity of their intention, to pronounce the testimony of faith before a man of Muslim faith and two witnesses. And so they are converted: a minority, but growing; in recent years almost 70 thousand people have converted in our country.

The Italian convert has been brought under the spotlight by the case of the 24-year old Genovese, Giuliano Delnevo Ibrahim, who was killed in Syria while fighting alongside the rebels. Delnevo had converted to Islam in 2008. His journey of faith, is , less and less rare in our country. “According to our estimates,” converts of Italian descent “exceeds 70 thousand” explained Izzedin Elzir, imam in Florence and president UCOII (the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, bringing together over 150 organizations)  conversions to Islam are in fact becoming more frequent, especially in the recent times of economic and moral crisis. “For Elzir, the new Muslims” can be a valuable bridge for dialogue between faith and country “in short, a sort of ambassador of Islam.”

Missouri anti-Sharia law advances

JEFFERSON CITY • In what has become a regular ritual here, a state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would prevent Sharia Law from taking over Missouri.

The Senate General Laws committee also discussed a measure that would outlaw any federal attempts to regulate firearms in Missouri.

The committee hasn’t acted on either measure, and both appear unlikely to have much chance at becoming law. But they both touch on some of the hottest ideological issues in the nation right now.

“They should call that the Tea Party Committee,” Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, a committee member, scoffed as she left the hearing.

Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, who acknowledged that Missouri isn’t in any immediate danger of being overtaken by foreign legal theories. But he said he wants to make sure the state “keeps things the way they are.”

The bill doesn’t specifically mention the Islamist Sharia religious law. But more than 20 states have considered similar measures in the past few years, generally tied to the ongoing debate over alleged Islamist influences in the U.S.

There’s no current mechanism under which a foreign law could apply in Missouri.

The second bill would make it illegal for any government official to attempt to enforce any federal firearms regulation in Missouri.

Italian Muslims Greet the New Pope

Friday, March 15, 2013

This is the message addressed to Pope Francis sent by COREIS Italian an organization which represents Italian Muslims

As Muslims, we wish to express to all Catholic Christians, our brothers in the faith of One God, our most heartfelt congratulations for the renewal of a leadership role for the Catholic Church. We are aware of the vital importance of continuity in the expression of authority which is vital to every spiritual community of believers, especially in times of transition. We welcome the call to brotherhood expressed in the first words of the newly elected Pope Francis, in the hope that it will realize an authentic spiritual harmony among followers of different religious communities. We hope that the new pontificate is a true sign of real universal openness and recognition for all orthodoxies which base their faith in the One God.

As Muslims we hope that the selection of name of the new Pope remembers Francis of Assisi’s great example of holiness and openness to the East and Islam. We also remember another great saint, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, who reminds us that a sense of longing for the knowledge of God is at the heart of all true spirituality. In this moment of historic transition we believe that the fate of humanity are intimately linked to the ability to continue to develop dimensions of faith, knowledge and holiness, which are embodied by men belonging the various religions.

COREIS has always recognized the work to preserve the testimony of God in the West and will continue a dialogue with the Catholic Church and Christianity. COREIS remembers the historic meeting in Assisi in 1986, in which the founder of COREIS, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini, was welcomed by the Blessed John Paul II. Other milestones include meetings between the vice president Imam Yahya Pallavicini and Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo in 2006. We renew our best wishes for the beginning of the new pontificate, confident that cooperation will be vital for a new intellectual orientation; we support a spiritual man in his contribution to the world.

Live video testimony from Pakistan planned for defense witnesses in Fla. terror support trial

MIAMI — Witnesses will testify live from Pakistan via video beamed to a federal courtroom as part of the defense case in the trial of a Muslim cleric accused of financially supporting the Pakistani Taliban.

 

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola approved the unusual testimony in the case of 77-year-old imam Hafiz Khan. The first five witnesses will be questioned beginning Feb. 11 at an Islamabad hotel, and jurors will watch on courtroom TV screens. Scola said Tuesday the arrangement is costing taxpayers about $130,000.

 

Khan is on trial for allegedly funneling at least $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban, listed by the U.S. as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. Khan insists the money was for innocent purposes, and the Pakistani witnesses are expected to back that up. If convicted, Khan faces up to 15 years in prison on each of four counts.

 

Four of the witnesses that will begin testifying on Feb. 11 are alleged by prosecutors to be Taliban members or sympathizers, including Khan’s daughter Amina Khan. She and two of the others are charged in the same U.S. case as their father, but Pakistan has refused to arrest them, federal prosecutors say.

 

“We have no information that’s going to happen,” Sullivan said.

 

Earlier, prosecutors dropped charges against one of Khan’s sons, and Scola earlier this month dismissed the case against a second son because of insufficient evidence. Trial of the elder Khan is expected to last through most of February.