After years of investigating a supposed international terrorist training ring, it appeared that the Justice Department had finalized charges against Imam Abu Taubah (aka Marcus Robertson) and student, Jonathan Paul Jimenez. A March 14th indictment (now superceded) against the two Central-Florida Muslims culminated in unsurprisingly banal charges of tax fraud.
The outrageous claims to “train in violent jihad” are based on recorded conversations between Jonathan Jimenez and a FBI informant embedded in the Orlando-based community. In the undated conversations embellished with ”yo”s and “grizzie,” it is alleged that Jimenez boldly claims, among other things, that Abu Taubah had commented on the permissibility of engaging in suicide bombings under certain circumstances and targeting US generals in warfare.
Besides the unreliable quality of hearsay in question, Jiminez’s attorney described the exchanges as verbal “chest bumping” in efforts to impress his new acquaintance, the generous informant. Later in September 2011, a month following the arrest of Abu Taubah for possession of a firearm (a charge he pleaded guilty to in January 2012), Jimenez was questioned over the phone by the FBI.
Considering that the informant’s recordings were made prior to the FBI interview, the questioning was designed specifically to intimidate and entrap Jimenez. An agent repeatedly asked Jimenez, “Have you ever told anyone” a variety of possibly incriminating information about himself and Abu Taubah, instead of directly asking about the authenticity of the claims made on the recordings.
It is clear from Jimenez’s responses that he fails to realize that the questions pertain to whether or not he has discussed the issue with another person and not about the issues themselves. For instance, in the following excerpt, the agent does not ask Jimenez whether or not Marcus Robertson taught him how to shoot a firearm, yet Jimenez perceives the intent of the inquiry to be such and answers accordingly:
Agent: Have you ever told anyone that Marcus Robertson or Abu Taubah told you that he was going to teach you how to shoot?
Jimenez: No, not at all, sir, he never taught me how to shoot and, uh, like I said, I wasn’t, you know, he had me there for strictly, you know, studying, and that’s mostly what I was going around, you know, so…
Unwilling to corroborate wild accusations of Abu Taubah’s alleged training, the 28 year old Jimenez was himself arrested March 19, 2012. Five months later, he pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and one count of making a false statement on August 28, 2012.
And though our casual dismissal of another ‘terrorist’ case could end here, Jimenez’s plea reveals issues more disturbing than his own punitive prosecution. It provides grave insight into the serious tone of the allegations against Abu Taubah and the desperation to realize his long term imprisonment.
Indicative of the Islamophobic nature of federal investigations overall, the indictment incredibly cites “reading the Quran, and learning Arabic” as some the sinister activities involved in the purported training.
Additionally, the DOJ press release claims “Robertson [Abu Taubah] stressed that Jimenez needed to focus on the religious aspects of his training,” a strange and slippery piece of evidence that can only lead to establish any type of religious practice as training for terror.
Other skills allegedly “necessary to participate in violent jihad overseas,” included learning martial arts, shooting a BB gun and wielding a knife.
One can perhaps formulate a frightful fantasy where the entire US government and armed forces are brought to their knees by a single high-kick and knife jab, but this selection of circumstantial activities can hardly fit the advertised “violent” training that endangers US lives, domestic and abroad.
Rather, what is more apparent is that these activities were openly offered to the Muslim community at large, in a consistent and non-controversial manner, spanning the Imam’s career as a spiritual leader in multiple communities. In fact, the classes were part of a whole range of diverse offerings which included literacy education, historical sightseeing, picnics, and classes on Islam.
Further, familiar with unforgiving inner-city environs such as New York and Los Angeles, and having served in a professional capacity as an anti-drug and anti-gang advocate, Abu Taubah frequently stressed the importance for impoverished and minority communities to be adept in self-defence and self-policing, not unlike other civic-minded and federally targeted leaders such as El Hajj Malik Shabbaz, Imam Jamil Amin and Imam Luqman.
Even more insulting, however, is the repeated implication that Jimenez’s preparations to perform Hajj and pursue religious studies abroad are insidiously referred to as overseas “travel to engage in violent jihad,” an unsubstantiated claim that would have certainly warranted a charge more serious than tax fraud if it all true.
And though agents could have produced any number of false statements to entrap Jimenez (i.e. “Have you ever told anyone that you like cream puffs and sodas on Sundays?”), they made sure the most inflammatory statements would be showcased in order to inject an air of mortal danger into a sadly technical case of tax refunds and nervous recanting.
For example, after the informant provides encouragement with confessions of his own, Jimenez decides to declare a love of dying as a martyr:
You know, it’s deep that you’re telling me this. You know, I’ve been thinking about that lately, about asking Allah to die as a martyr, man, as a shaheed in jihad. You know? Cause they said what’s better than making hajj is the ones who fight in the cause of Allah. And you know what is so beautiful about Allah? Even if you don’t get to do it, if your intentions is to do it and Allah knows that you would’ve got on that battlefield and did it, you get rewarded with that.
The quote has no context, but we are led to believe that either Jimenez has convictions that Allah will reward him for merely admiring the concept of martyrdom or that he has violent aspirations; either way it fulfils its purpose of shock and lending veracity to claims of international terror. To be sure, the quote will almost certainly be cited again in the future to substantiate claims that Abu Taubah encouraged others to in engage in violent jihad.
And although these claims for now remain mere allegations, its deliberate insertion into Jimenez’s loosely related plea is undoubtedly to ensure a maximum sentence of 18 years; and to corroborate future fodder for a refurbished indictment against Imam Abu Taubah, whose trial was scheduled for October but may be postponed while he is similarly pressured into a plea bargain and co-defendants are concurrently pressured into providing terrorism-related testimony for lenient sentencing.
Please keep the families and prisoners in your adiya. Support Abu Taubah’s legal fund and family. They are in dire need of solidarity and support, so please send letters to:
Jonathan Paul Jiminez #12024695 M-6D Orange County Jail P.O. Box 4970 Orlandoe, FL 32802 USA
Marcus Robertson #201100011051 John Polk Correctional Facility Seminole County 211 Bush Blvd Sanford, FL 32773 USA