ALEXANDRIA, Va. — It’s been 2 ½ years since Gulet Mohamed, then 19, found himself stuck in Kuwait, unable to return to the United States because of his apparent placement on the government’s no-fly list.
Mohamed made it back to the U.S. not long after a federal lawsuit was filed on his behalf in January 2011, but the lawsuit challenging his placement on the list remains unresolved.
On Friday, Mohamed was back in a northern Virginia courtroom, where his lawsuit has been revived but as a legal matter is no further along than it was in 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed Mohamed’s case last year, deciding he did not have jurisdiction to hear it. Earlier this year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit and sent the case back to Trenga.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the court should now be in a position to rule on the substantive issue of whether the no-fly list is constitutional, and whether those placed on it must be given a fair chance to challenge their inclusion.
There has never been any explanation of how Mohamed — a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia — ended up on the list, much less government confirmation of his placement on the list. His travel difficulties began after he traveled to Yemen and Somalia in 2009 to learn Arabic, then to Kuwait where he stayed with an uncle. He said he was questioned by FBI agents who wanted him to become an informant, and when detained by Kuwait he was beaten and tortured.
Mohamed’s challenge to the list was among the first in a wave of lawsuits that followed a dramatic expansion of the list that occurred after the failed plot by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underwear.
BOSTON — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was charged Monday with “using a weapon of mass destruction” that resulted in three deaths, according to documents filed in federal court.
The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged by federal prosectors as he lay in a bed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, officials said.
In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Mr. Tsarnaev was charged with one count of “using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction” against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of “malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.”
If he is convicted, the charges could carry the death penalty.
The charges were announced one week after the 117th Boston Marathon began with a starter’s gun and ended in two deadly bombings, shortly before a statewide moment of silence was planned for 2:50 p.m. to mark the moment a pair of pressure-cooker bombs detonated.
The White House said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would not be tried as an enemy combatant. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
Mr. Carney noted that it was illegal to try an American citizen in a military commission, and that a number of high-profile terrorism cases were handled in the civilian court system, including that of the would-be bomber who tried to bring down a passenger jet around Christmas 2009 with explosives in his underwear.
Mr. Carney said the government had gotten “valuable intelligence” from suspects kept in the civilian judicial process. “The system has repeatedly proven it can handle” such cases, he said.
‘Modern Terrorism,’ by Jon Kern, at the Second Stage Theater
If all the would-be evildoers crawling the globe were as amusing and incompetent as the dizzy threesome from “Modern Terrorism,” a new play by Jon Kern that opened on Thursday at the Second Stage Theater, the world would be a pacific place indeed.
That’s a mighty “if,” of course, as grisly headlines from Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and occasionally places much closer to home remind us daily. So let’s give Mr. Kern a quick salute for his bravery in trying to engender laughter from the mishaps that befall three Muslim terrorists plotting to blow up the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Not often does a critic get to employ the words “amusing” and “terrorists” in the same sentence.
The play, directed with dispatch by Peter DuBois, opens with the shocking image of a young man, Qala (William Jackson Harper), rooting around in the periwinkle briefs of Rahim (Utkarsh Ambudkar), from which a tangle of wires protrude. No, this is not an unusually kinky Craigslist hookup: their discussion turns on the possibility of Rahim’s genitals’ giving off too much moisture, thus rendering the bomb stuffed inside the underwear ineffectual.
While “Modern Terrorism” certainly has the courage of its convictions — a brutal killing takes place onstage, spattering brain matter across the wall — Mr. Kern’s characters are too superficially conceived, and the strands of his plot too formulaic, to engender the combination of sucker-punch shock and bruising humor that Mr. McDonagh at his best manages to achieve. It’s hard to truly discomfit the audience when your play is so richly stocked in primetime-ready wisecracks.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to bring down a U.S. commercial flight on Christmas Day 2009 by detonating a bomb hidden in his underwear, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in federal court in Detroit.
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said life in prison is a “just punishment,” noting that “the defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere.”
Abdulmutallab’s lawyer had said that sentencing the Nigerian to mandatory life as required under federal law would be unconstitutional because no one was killed in the attempted bombing. But Edmunds was unmoved.
Government lawyers, who played video of the impact of detonating the equivalent amount of explosives as Abdulmutallab carried, essentially said that his failure to succeed in the attack did not lessen its seriousness. They described him as an “unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired.”
“Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
DETROIT — A young Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down a jetliner with a bomb in his underwear made a defiant political outburst Tuesday, demonstrating again why his courtroom behavior will be closely watched throughout the trial where he’s representing himself.
“The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. — the cancer U.S.,” said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, scowling as he referred to Muslim guerrilla fighters.
When marshals removed his handcuffs, he also claimed that a radical Muslim cleric killed last week by the American military is still alive.
Virtually everyone aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had holiday plans, but Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab believed his calling was martyrdom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said. The bomb didn’t work as planned but Abdulmutallab was engulfed in flames, said Tukel, who displayed the flight’s seating chart on a screen to show jurors where things happened on the plane.
The government says he told FBI agents he was working for al Qaida and directed by Anwar al-Alwaki, a radical, American-born Muslim cleric recently killed by the U.S. in Yemen. There are photos of his scorched shorts as well as video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the U.S.
To many young Muslims wrestling with conflicts between faith and country, Yasir Qadhi is a rock star. To law-enforcement agents, he is also a figure of interest, given his prominence in a community considered vulnerable to radicalization. Some officials, noting his message of nonviolence, also see him as an ally. Others were wary, recalling a time when Qadhi spouted a much harder, less tolerant line.
Qadhi’s platform is the AlMaghrib Institute, where he serves as academic dean. Founded in 2002 by Muhammad Alshareef, a Canadian cleric then living in Alexandria, Va., AlMaghrib is now an international enterprise, offering seminars in the United States, Canada and Britain. It reported nearly $1.2 million in revenue in 2009 and aspires to become a full-time Islamic seminary, albeit with an air of corporate America.
In the spectrum of the global Salafi movement, Qadhi, who is 36, speaks for the nonmilitant majority. Yet even as he has denounced Islamist violence — too late, some say — a handful of AlMaghrib’s former students have heeded the call. In addition to the underwear-bomb suspect, the 36,000 current and former students of Qadhi’s institute include Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire convert who was convicted in 2007 of training with an Al Qaeda-linked militia in Somalia; Tarek Mehanna, a 28-year-old pharmacist arrested for conspiring to attack Americans; and two young Virginia men held in Pakistan in 2009 for seeking to train with militants.
There are several kinds of jihad, which is translated to mean “striving in the path of God.” While progressive Muslims emphasize the spiritual form, Qadhi and other conservatives say that the majority of the Koran’s references to jihad are to military struggle. Qadhi’s interpretation makes him neither a hardline militant nor a pure pacifist. While he unequivocally denounces violence against civilians, he believes Muslims have the right to defend themselves from attack. But he says “offensive jihad”— the spread of the Islamic state by force — is permissible only when ordered by a legitimate caliph, or global Muslim ruler, which is nonexistent in today’s world.
A U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, linked to previous attacks on the U.S. called for Muslims around world to kill Americans in a new video message posted on radical websites Monday. In the 23-minute Arabic language message entitled “Make it known and clear to mankind,” al-Awlaki said that for Americans and Muslims it was “either us or them.”
Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki has used his website and English-language sermons to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and has been tied by U.S. intelligence to the 9/11 hijackers, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in November at Fort Hood, Texas.
“Don’t consult with anybody in killing the Americans, fighting the devil doesn’t require consultation or prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils,” he said. “We are two opposites who will never come together.” Al-Awlaki also attacked rulers in the Arab world, particularly Yemen, describing them as corrupt and he called on religious scholars to declare them “non-Muslims” for betraying the Muslim people.
The spot begins with a dark-haired woman stepping out of the shower. With vaguely Middle Eastern music playing, she applies mascara, steps into high heels, slips on black lingerie and garters and spins in front of the mirror, clearly admiring her body and the lingerie she’s wearing. Up to this point, it’s typical lingerie commercial fare, but then the ad leaps from the mundane to the surprising: the woman quickly flips a niqab over her head. With only her mascara-ed eyes visible, she gazes out of a window. Then the tag line appears: “sexiness is for everyone.”
Of course, this ad is not meeting with approval from every corner. Islamineurope.com discusses a Norwegian television interview with religion historian Hanne Nabintu Herland, who criticized the commercial because it “links the Arab dress with sexuality, and not to morals and virtue.” Well, Liaisons Dangereuse is in the business of making money by selling naughty undergarments, so it’s unlikely their marketing plan called for promoting “morals and virtue.” Herland says the ad unnecessarily “trample[s] the cultural dress of Muslims”.
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