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Category Archives: Collateral Damage

Untargeted Victims of America’s War on Terror

Sharmin Sadequee on the War on Freedom & Her Brother’s Case

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As a little boy, Sharmin’s brother often reminded her to not to step on bugs. As a young man, he worked with his sister Sonali at Raksha, an Atlanta-based organization dedicated to the eradication of violence against women. The US-born Bangladeshi, who had attended a private Islamic high school in Canada, used his knowledge of classical Arabic to translate ancient Islamic texts into English for the former Tibyan Institute website. (The current website appears to be run by US government agents.) Some of the religious opinions that he translated he agreed with, and some he did not agree with. Some of the scholarly work he translated analyzed the concept of ‘jihad.’

Shifa engaged in frank and sometimes wild chat discussions with his online friends. The teenagers who connected through this website discussed Freemasonry and the New World Order as well as their obligations as Muslim men.

Shifa’s mother, Shirin Sadequee said her son was just “talking” about jihad and exploring ideas with other youth.

Shifa Sadequee’s sister Sharmin told The Muslim Observer that the online chats “consisted of teenagers discussing religious and spiritual matters and opinions of scholars on various issues, political comments, wars abroad, etc.” The mostly South Asian teenagers “used cultural idioms, slang terms that a lot of second generation immigrant youths use in their conversations, but the government interpreted a lot of those phrases and conversations as ‘code’ words.”

“He was not at all planning to join Taliban. He was living in Bangladesh in 2001, when the war in Afghanistan broke out. He emailed some websites wanting to know how he could help the Muslims in Afghanistan. Which the government interpreted as ‘joining’ the Taliban.”

In August 2005, Shifa was detained and questioned at Kennedy International Airport in New York on his way to Bangladesh to get married.

On April 17, 2006, twelve days after his wedding, Shifa was disappeared by Bangladeshi authorities. At a press conference in Bangladesh, his father begged for help from the public in finding his missing son. The Bangladeshi government kept silent.

The FBI brought him to New York aboard a “secret” CIA rendition aircraft via Alaska, stripping off his clothes and wrapping him in clear plastic wrap. FBI agent Michael Sherck requested the warrant for Shifa’s arrest.

In New York, Shifa was charged with making a “false statement” to the FBI but the case was later dropped. In August, 2006, the US government transferred Shifa to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on “terrorism” related charges. No government agencies communicated about his arrest to his father and wife in Bangladesh or to his family in Atlanta. Shifa was held for three years in solitary confinement without trial, during which time he was pressured to testify against his friends in exchange for a plea bargain. He refused.

“When my brother was arrested, Atlanta Muslim community leaders and members, when they went to talk with the US Attorneys to learn more about the case, the US Attorneys acknowledged that my brother and his friend did not do anything, but that they really needed to prosecute someone to let others know not to talk or do things like these youth.”

Shifa was targeted due to online association with FBI targets including the Toronto 12. Tariq Mehanna was translating for the same online publication and they knew each other from online. There is no evidence that there was any plan to do anything illegal.

Sadequee was charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a group struggling to liberate Muslim-dominated Kashmir from India––although LET was not designated as a terrorist organization in the U.S. in 2005 and did not even exist as an organization then.

““The LET… one of the terrorist organizations that they’re accusing him of beginning to intend to start becoming a part of, didn’t even exist at the time and also was not registered in the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization until two weeks after Shifa was arrested,” stated Atlanta activist Stephanie Guilloud.

He was also accused of sending videos of tourist sites in Washington, D.C. to his online friends, who supposedly were in contact with LET. However, the government could not demonstrate a single conversation or sentence from the online chats about plans or plots for attacking these sites.

Evan Kohlmann testified as an “expert” witness at Sadequee’s trial. Kohlmann, who is connected with Steve Emerson and Israel lobbies, has a history of giving false testimony about Muslim political groups – at Yassin Aref’s trial he absurdly claimed that Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda and Kurdish separatists were working together.

The religious debates of teenagers were taken out of context by the government to paint them as terrorists and to preemptively prosecute them. Yet the actual chats remained classified as “secret evidence” and were not presented to the jury.

FBI agents testified that online chat conversations by Sadequee discussed robbing people at ATMs and selling marijuana to raise travel money. Sadequee cross examined FBI Agent James Allen regarding the conversations, pointing out that the term “LOL” (laugh out loud) indicated that the conversations were not serious. The judge allowed Allen to interpret evidence which he, as a fact witness, should not have done.

“When ethnocentrism guides in the making and application of the law, jurors and courts/judges as products of culture and bound by culture and politics will always find certain groups ‘guilty.’” said Sharmin.

Shifa was convicted on August 13th, 2009 and sentenced to 17 years. He was also sentenced to an additional 30 years probation, during which time he cannot access the Internet. He spent some time at the CMU in Marion, Illinois before being moved to the CMU in Terre Haute, Indiana in May 2012.

“Within 24 hours of my brother’s conviction, the Director of the US Attorney Office in GA, David Nahmias, was promoted as a Judge to the Georgia Supreme Court– it was headline news in the local media the morning after my brother’s verdict. And a few years later the lead US Attorney in the case was also placed as a judge in the Fulton County System. Not sure what kind of promotion the FBI agents received.”

Community organizing played a large role in Shifa’s relatively light sentencing, who was faced with up to 60 years and defended himself without help of a lawyer. 2,900 people wrote letters to the judge asking for leniency. Sharmin explains:

“From the very beginning it was the progressive non-Muslim community and the queer community who stood by us. And, communities that were active around Imam Jamil Al Amin’s case and campaign were very supportive and understood how my brother was targeted for his spiritual and political beliefs and how the case against him was an attack on his First Amendment Rights because he was brown and Muslim.

“This attack was not only on Shifa who is a critical thinker, or on our family, but it was also a violence on the whole community and our ability to think critically about our beliefs, practices, politics, and the way of the world. So, our community-based cross-racial and interfaith alliance helped us to create collective resiliency to respond to the violence of the War on Terror.

“Of course this case was in 2006, and a lot of Muslims in America then believed only the ‘bad’ Muslims are under surveillance and get targeted but now we know this is not true. Things are improving, however. I think more people are realizing keeping quiet is not going to take them anywhere.”

Original Article by Karin Friedemann published by The Muslim Observer

Ehsanul Islam Sadequee #15240-006
FCI Terre Haute
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
USA
 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Collateral Damage

 

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What Have You Done in the Last 11 Years?


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For Johina Aamer, her brothers and her mother, the technical aspects of Shaker Aamer’s case come second to their daily worry: they have not been with Shaker for 11 years – soon to be 12 years. Everything else becomes peripheral to this. This family just wants their father home and a wife wants her husband back. It is easy to dismiss 11 years as another statistic to this case without really thinking about how long it is. So Johina wants to ask you: “What have you done in the last 11 years?”

Our upmost gratitude to all who featured in this video in support of Johina.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Collateral Damage, Videos

 

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Shadow Lives: The Story of Ragaa, Wife of Adel Abdel Bary

Enduring 13 years of her husband’s imprisonment in the UK, his fight against deportation to the US, and the challenges of preserving her family through hardship, Ragaa, the wife of Adel Abdul Bary, recounts life as a spouse of a terrorism suspect.

Ragaa met Adel Abdul Bary, the man who would become her husband, in 1981. Her Egyptian family had moved from the countryside into a flat near the centre of Cairo. In those days she was a girl in tight jeans and a T-shirt, with long hair below her waist, though at her parents’ insistence she tied it back in a plait, and was not allowed to wear makeup. At Cairo University, Ragaa found herself doing business studies instead of the art or music she had wanted to do, because her final school exam results were not good enough.

Cairo University

She hated her course but was entranced by the university world. Before long, other girls from her class, wearing hijab, began to take her aside and talk to her about how her beautiful hair should be hidden, encouraging her to come into the mosque area of the college. “I went,” she says. “It was something different. I felt calm, peaceful in there.”

Ragaa and her sister began to follow Islam more strictly than the rest of their Muslim family. It was the fashion for the educated young back then, she says. The two girls went to an all-female Islamic study circle where the male teacher sat the other side of a curtain. One day, Ragaa saw him after class in the street, a handsome man with a little beard and turban, and imagined how lovely it would be to be his wife. Later, his sister spoke to her about a marriage, and then to her great excitement, he and his family came to visit hers. The marriage was decided.

At the time Egypt was a tinder-box of political and religious tension. On 3 September 1981 President Anwar Sadat had ordered an extraordinary mass round-up of religious leaders, politicians, journalists, army officers and others. He mocked the girls wearing chadors, “going about like black tents”, and the young men with beards. Sadat was assassinated shortly afterwards, during a military parade, by a handful of young Islamist officers, and was succeeded by another military leader, Hosni Mubarak.

After Adel’s return from a year’s study in Yemen, there was a formal written Islamic marriage. Ragaa thought the life she had imagined was about to begin but soon Adel was arrested like so many thousands opposed to the Mubarak regime. She spent six months travelling with his sister to every prison in Egypt to try to find him. When she finally did, he was a veteran of torture – by hanging, electric shock and solitary confinement underground. There had been a period of hospitalisation, followed by ordinary prison. No one knew when Adel would be released, or if he ever would.

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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Collateral Damage

 

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May Allah Grant You Patience, Shukri: The Sanabel Abu Baker that I knew!!

By: Ahmad Musa Jibril

When I was transferred to the Communication Management Unit, also known as the Terrorist Unit or (Guantanamo North)–a special secret illegal prison within the US BOP prison system designed especially for a selected few Muslims.

After a short time there, I was asked by the brothers there to stand up as their Amir. At this time I started classes in Islamic Sciences and did not have time to take on such a responsibility, so I refused their request.

On an early morning after sunrise, as I was on a rusted manual treadmill that was provided for us in a small cage. Shukri asked to speak to me, and knowing that it was regarding the matter of being the Amir, I tried to brush off the conversation and continue my daily routine. “You need to accept being the Amir because everyone has by ijma (consensus) decided that they want you to be, and by you not accepting, it would make the problems we have out of control.”

My workout slowed down as he engaged me in the conversation. After several minutes, I reluctantly agreed.

Over the upcoming months, I learned more about him and our other brothers in the unit. They shared their past and opened their hearts. Among that which brother Shukri agonized over was his daughter, Sanabel. He, as the other brothers in the prison, loved his family deeply, but he faced a dilemma that not many others faced. His daughter, Sanabel, who was ill from childhood, continuously occupied his thoughts. The doctors predicted that she would not live very far past the age of seven but, by the will of Allah, she made it to her mid-twenties, Alhamdulillah.

One day, my dear brother Mukhtar Albakri (One of Lackawanna Six case) came to me and told me that Shukri is in the yard crying and that I should go check on him. This yard that he was in is basically nothing more than a small cage. When I went to look for him, he had gone back to his cell. I asked him what had happened and he told me that he just got off the phone, and that his Sanabel is in critical condition, with an unlikely recovery.     Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Biographies, Collateral Damage

 

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Sanabel Abu-Baker: “Baba, I’m Okay.”

Please send letters and messages of condolence and support to a grieving father and hero, Shukri Abu-Baker on the recent passing of his daughter, Sanabel Abu-Baker. Sanabel has passed away after 26 years of struggling with illness and the additional hardship of enduring the persecution of her father, who is serving a 65 year prison sentence for providing food, medicine and school supplies to impoverished Palestinian children.
( إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ )

Sanabel AbuBaker (Paint by Number)

I painted this picture, before you say anything its paint by number, anyways I sent it to my dad along with a card made from recycled paper, and they sent it back and said the card was padded and that they could not inspect it without damaging them…….how pathetic.. like seriously, u can see through the card and the painting is just a little thicker than cardstock paper… i got soo mad because i was sooo excited painting it while i was at the hospital that my dad would have a nice scene to look out… now this is something my dad can free hand draw but not me i can just paint in the lines… — Sanabel Abu-Baker, November 2012

May Allah accept her in alFirdaus and hasten the release of her father, Amin.

Shukri Abu-Baker #32589-177
USP Terre Haute
U.S. Penitentiary
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
USA
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Campaigns, Collateral Damage

 

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A Message from Solitary: His Words are Always, “Allah is with me, Allah is with me.”

Abu Hamza al-MasriMy husband, Sheikh Abu Hamza, was extradited from the UK to America on the 5th of October 2012; since then my husband has not been allowed to see anyone face to face, not even his solicitors.

The American government [has] allowed my husband to see his solicitors on a number of occasions. Even then, the visit has been behind a glass window. Not only that, the glass window had a curtain over the glass to prevent my husband from looking at his solicitors face to face…

All this time [3 months and 10 days] , he has remained in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, in a small room with no window and no sunlight. For one hour, he is allowed to stretch his leg just next to his cell where there is not even enough room to even do that.

It has been three months now since his extradition, but he was only allowed to call me once. On the contrary, Alhamdulillah, I have received a few letters from him. Me and my family also write to him on a regular basis.

Since he’s been there, his hair has not being combed due to a comb not being available for him. He doesn’t even know the direction of the Kibla, so he prays to a direction by guessing where the Kibla is.

The American government knows my husband is disabled! But when the guards bring food for him, they bring food which is wrapped with plastic. When my husband tries to open it with his teeth, half of the food is spilled all over the floor. Wallahi, this is an oppression being done to my husband knowing full well that he has no hand.

These people who have detained my husband unlawfully do nothing but aggravate the situation and make things difficult for him intentionally. They have stripped his dignity and violated his honour. His faith and religious practices attacked, but Alhamdulillah, Allah is the Watcher and the Ultimate Protector of those who are weak and Allah (swt) does not let the deeds of anyone to be lost. Allah will hold EVERYONE (ALL human beings, without an exception) accountable for their actions on the Day of Judgement where there is no doubt!

Despite all these, Alhamdulillah, my husband, Sheikh Abu Hamza, is happy and is in a good spirit. He knows that this is the path he has chosen and his words are always, “Allah is with me, Allah is with me.” He has said to let all the brothers and sisters who have written letters to him know that, they are always in his special du’aas. He is happy to know that the Ummah has not forsaken him. He said not to worry, insha’Allah. It would be nice for the brothers and sisters to write letters to him as much as they can so that he knows his brothers and sisters have not forgotten about him and that he knows he is always in their du’aas.

I can’t stress enough the importance of everyone making du’aa for him, as this is the most powerful weapon we have. He needs our support right now and has a right to our support. So please brothers and sisters, make du’aa and remember the only crime he committed is that he says he believes in Allah. The prison is not the place for him. His place is with his family, especially his children.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“One who helps a fellow Muslim in removing his (or her) difficulty in this world, Allah will remove the former’s distress on the Day of Judgement.

He who helps to remove the hardship of another, will have his difficulties removed by Allah in this world and the hereafter.

One who covers the shortcomings of another Muslim will have his faults covered up in this world and the next by Allah.

Allah continues to help a servant, so long as he goes on helping his own brother (or sister).” [Muslim]

We will all be called to account and asked what we did for our brothers and sisters that are suffering around us, the least we can do is make du’aa for them.

Barakallahufikum for all those brothers and sisters who have supported my husband for all these years. Your help, love and concern for him has not gone unnoticed. Your reward is with Allah (swt). I ask Allah, the Almighty, to give you the good of this world and the good of the Hereafter. Ameen.

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-Umm Hamza (wife of Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, Abu Hamza)

Please Keep Abu Hamza and his family in your du’aa and write to him at:

Mostafa Kamel Mostafa #67495-054
MCC New York
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, NY  10007
USA
 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Collateral Damage

 

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The Persecution of Abu Qatada Extends to His Family

Media Frenzy Outside of Abu Qatada's House

After months of dignified silence while their father has been repeatedly publicly vilified in an unprecedented high-level political and media campaign, the children of Mohammed Othman (Abu Qatada) have now written an open letter on Twitter refuting some of the press misinformation about them, and detailing what they describe as escalating oppressive practices of the British government. They reveal too some of the extreme difficulties of their young lives in recent weeks and months, and the fact that threatening messages have become something they have learned to live with.

We are just like a punching bag for anyone,” the oldest son, Qatada, said today, describing why the children of this very private family felt they could no longer keep silent.

The letter highlights the systematic pressure of the media outside their previous house, once their father was allowed out on bail, and how it has drawn in demonstrations.

“The press would stand outside the house and incite passers-by to harass us and sign petitions to get us evicted. They would do the same thing with our neighbours. This incitement encouraged racist pressure groups to hold demonstrations outside the house on a weekly basis between four in the afternoon and eleven in the evening. These demonstrators would scream and curse at us and at Islam.”

The letter describes how in their previous home the landlord himself was subjected to the pressure of enormous media attention. The family had to leave. Far from them asking the government to move them to a bigger house, as has been constantly reported, the government insisted their father, freed on a court order, be in a house the government found. By now, in fact, it was impossible to find a landlord ready to let to them, given the constant repetition by government figures at all levels about how dangerous and undesirable their father is.  The media campaign against him has become became part of the political project of the government to defy the court ruling and force him to return to Jordan to face a trial where all the evidence against him was obtained by torture.

Read more at CagePrisoners…

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Collateral Damage, News Items

 

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