A federal judge denied a bid for a new trial Thursday by a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists by training with them in his family's homeland of Pakistan, rejecting defense assertions of juror misconduct and faulty evidence.The case is about a young Muslim son and his father (both from Pakistan) and how they got caught up in an FBI dragnet in which they were accused of being trained as Al Qaeda terrorists. The only problem is, is that they were never trained by Al Qaeada terrorists and had never met top Al Qaeda officials.
There was a great PBS Frontline documentary (more on that below) on this very subject and they were able to show how the government has been trumping up charges against Muslim Americans (South Asian, Persian, Arab, etc.) in order to show to the public how they were "winning" the war on terror. Yet the reality of the situation was, and still is, is that when these cases come to trial the government has to drop many of the charges they orginially filed against these people and instead would reduce them to charges such as not updating their visa, etc.
This case is an example of how Muslim Americans, especially immigrant Muslims, are being targeted not because they are doing "suspicious" activity, but because the very fact that they are Muslim and people of color and recent immigrants makes them suspicious.
The article continued:
In his 59-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. only briefly touched on the strength of the case, which centered on a videotaped confession that Hayat gave to FBI agents in June 2005 after returning from a long trip to Pakistan. Prosecutors had no other direct evidence of Hayat's training, but they offered proof of what they called his "jihadi heart."The problem with the confessions is that the father and son's confessions contradict each other and a former FBI official who's an expert in interegations, states that those video taped confessions should have never been allowed in court due to the way the FBI officials acted and due to the fact that the two taped confessions completely and utterly contradicted each other.
Hayat's trial attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, said she was "extremely disappointed" with the decision and that she planned to appeal.I really recommend you all see the Frontline documentary "The Enemy Within." The Council of American-Islamic Relations stated:
She argued at trial that Hayat had told FBI agents he went to a Pakistani terrorist training camp only when pressured, and did so in a misguided attempt to be helpful. His confession, she noted, was full of contradictions.
However, a deeper look at the evidence creates uncertainty about what kind of threat actually did exist in Lodi and provides a case study of America's response to the threat of domestic terrorism. FRONTLINE and...Lowell Bergman examines the Lodi case and interviews FBI and Homeland Security officials to assess U.S. anti-terror efforts in The Enemy Within.You can see the entire episode for free here.
This, and a recent article in the Chronicle about the president of the University of California system being exonerated, got me thinking about starting a new blog (I know, I know, I'm dong three already) that focuses mainly on the San Francisco Bay Area and on activist work in it. I was thinking the blog can have a couple of editors on it and a bunch of contributors from around the Bay. I was thinking most the contributors and topics would focus on people of color communities and issues that effect those communities. I was thinking all of the contributors could represent a diverse ammount of Bay Area activist orgs such as Bayan USA, Uhuru, POWER, etc. Any Bay Area bloggers out there interested?
Anyway, look for it soon!
Militant Islam Monitor