Featured Stories

  • How a botched translation landed Emad Hassan in Gitmo

    Featured Stories September 10, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Newsweek. After two months of beatings and interrogation, the Pakistanis handed Emad Hassan over to the U.S. military. While being interrogated by an American soldier and his Arabic translator, Hassan decided it was best to continue telling the truth. “Yes,” Hassan said, according to his lawyers, he had a connection to Al-Qaeda. He waited for the next question, but the soldier and the translator seemed satisfied. The interrogation was over. What was lost in translation, Hassan’s lawyers say: The soldier thought he was talking about Al-Qaeda, the deadly terrorist group. Hassan was actually referring to Al-Qa’idah, a village 115 miles from where he grew up in Yemen. Weeks later, prison guards came into Hassan’s cell. They stripped him of his clothes and put him in a diaper. Then they blindfolded him, placed earmuffs over his head and marched him onto a plane. When the aircraft landed, he soon learned he was in the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. What had started as a comic misunderstanding became a surreal odyssey through the dark side of America’s war on terror.

  • An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. Now he might go to prison.

    Source: The Washington Post. To the FBI, Asher Abid Khan is an unknown risk, and one that is best mitigated through prosecution. The case is emblematic of the American approach to confronting the Islamic State. While some European countries have decided to treat young radicals returning from Syria as prodigals in need of a deradicalization program of counseling, education and employment, the United States treats Islamic State recruits, even those who make it no further than an airport, as terrorism suspects.“Think of these charges as insurance,” said a senior U.S. law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing, referring to Khan. “We don’t know what he’s going to do. This guy may be on the path to deradicalization. We err on the side of caution.”

  • Killing of Detroit Imam in 2009 described as “nothing less than a cover-up”

    Source: The Intercept. On October 28, 2009, dozens of heavily armed FBI agents swarmed a warehouse in Dearborn, Michigan, to execute an arrest warrant against Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, and several other men, who had been accused of fencing stolen merchandise. What exactly happened next remains in dispute, but the raid resulted in Abdullah being shot more than 20 times and dying on the scene. An FBI press release issued later that day said that Abdullah, an imam at a mosque on Detroit’s West Side, “did not surrender and fired [a] weapon. An exchange of gun fire followed and Abdullah was killed.” This version of events has been fiercely contested by Abdullah’s lawyers and family, as well as an eyewitness to the shooting. Now, representatives of Abdullah’s estate are attempting to take his case to the Supreme Court, arguing that he was unlawfully killed during the 2009 encounter, and that the FBI and local law enforcement staged a cover-up.

  • Tough questions for Feds after they jailed an innocent man for nine years

    Source: Takepart. Attorney Mark Reichel has been waiting years for answers. Years, he says, during which “not a day goes by that I don’t think about the Eric McDavid case. What happened there was wrong in every way. We don’t live in that kind of country. This is a terribly frightening story in a free society.” McDavid was released in January after serving nine years of a 20-year sentence on federal charges related to an alleged ecoterrorism conspiracy. Documents had emerged, two months earlier, that were absent at his trial, including correspondence supporting his claim that he had been entrapped by an FBI operation involving a paid informant. U.S. attorneys new to the case had discovered the documents during a search through their predecessors’ file, which they performed in response to a habeas corpus petition challenging the government’s right to hold McDavid. At a court hearing in January, they said the failure to produce the 13 love letters between McDavid and an informant known as Anna—along with almost 3,000 other documents, including an email showing the government had asked to polygraph-test Anna and evidence that she had been coached in the love affair by a Behavioral Analysis Unit—was “inadvertent” and “a mistake.”

  • Doogie Huckster: A terrorism expert’s secret relationship with the FBI

    Source: The Intercept. Evan Kohlmann is the U.S. government’s go-to expert witness in terrorism prosecutions. Since 2004, Kohlmann has been asked to testify as an expert about terrorist organizations, radicalization and homegrown threats in more than 30 trials. Kohlmann doesn’t speak Arabic, however, and aside from a few days each in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai and Qatar, has hardly any experience in the Arab world. Kohlmann’s research is gleaned primarily from the Internet. Indeed, Kohlmann is not a traditional expert. Much of his research is not peer-reviewed. Kohlmann’s key theory, to which he has testified several times on the witness stand, involves a series of indicators that he claims determine whether someone is likely a homegrown terrorist. Yet he has never tested the theory against a randomly selected control group to account for bias or coincidence. For these and other reasons, Kohlmann’s critics describe him as a huckster. In recent months, however, the small cohort of defense lawyers nationwide who battle the government in terrorism prosecutions have been asking themselves another question: What’s in the government’s mysteriously classified materials about Kohlmann?

  • Zero for 40 at predicting attacks: Why do media still take FBI terror warnings seriously?

    Source: FAIR. On Monday, several mainstream media outlets repeated the latest press release by the FBI that country was under a new “heightened terror alert” from “ISIL-inspired attacks” “leading up to the July 4th weekend.” The ominous FBI (or Department of Homeland Security) “terror warning” has become such a staple of the on-going, seemingly endless “war on terror” (d/b/a war on ISIS), we hardly even notice it anymore. There’s only one problem: These warnings never actually come to fruition. Not rarely, or almost never, but—by all accounts—never. No attacks, no arrests, no suspects at large.

  • Christie’s Conspiracy. The real story behind the Fort Dix Five terror plot

    Source: The Intercept. Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka were arrested in the spring of 2007, but not brought to court until the fall of 2008. In the interim, the brothers were held in pretrial solitary confinement at the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center. On December 22, 2008, after six days of deliberation, the jury found the Duka brothers and their two friends guilty of conspiracy to kill members of the U.S. military at Fort Dix. Years later, the Duka brothers still look back with incredulity at the events that led to their present situation. The needy friends exposed as government informants, the high-profile arrests and terrorism charges, and finally the life sentences that permanently altered the course of their lives. “We had plans for the future, we were expanding our business just weeks before, our families were growing,” Shain says. “Now, suddenly, we have been buried alive.”

  • How our war on terror continues to crush families and destroy charities

    Source: Alternet. The Elashis lived the American dream for decades before they became targets of the war on terror. At the center of it all was the US government’s post-9/11 fixation on perceived Muslim enemies anywhere from Iraq to Dallas. The search for Al Qaeda and its financiers was one obsession. The long-held wish by the US and Israel to destroy Hamas, the Gaza resistance movement designated as a foreign terrorist organization in January 1995, got a new impetus in this political climate. Muslim charities were easy targets. The prosperous Elashi brothers, who had a cousin married to a prominent Hamas leader, were in the US government’s crosshairs. In 2008, the five Holy Land Foundation directors, including one member of the Elashi family, Ghassan, were convicted on charges of material support for terrorism. Ghassan Elashi, the chairman, and HLF chief executive, Shukri Abu Baker, received 65-year sentences. Nancy Hollander (counsel for Abu Baker) said after the sentence, “I was horrified by it, the thought that somebody gets 65 years for providing charity is really shameful and I believe this case will go down in history, as have others…as a shameful day. Essentially these people were convicted because they were Palestinians.”

  • To catch the devil

    Featured Stories May 19, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Foreign Policy. In 2011, a sex offender and onetime jihadi wannabe helped snare a suspected terrorist—and was promised $100,000 in return. In the sordid world of FBI informants, that’s the price of doing business. In the domestic war on terror, the front lines are often manned by unsettled—or unsettling—figures , criminals and hustlers commissioned by the FBI to pursue equally problematic or susceptible targets. And while the informants hope that their assignments will put money in their pockets, erase their troubled pasts, or both, in many cases the bureau cuts off contact when operations are over.

  • Acts of Terrorism Very Rare Among US Muslims, Study Finds

    Source: Voice of America. After the September 11, 2001, attacks and more recent efforts by militant groups in Muslim countries to radicalize and recruit Muslims living in the West, there have been fears among U.S. authorities and the public of large-scale terrorist strikes on home soil. Such fears, however, have been largely unfounded, because Muslims in the United States have overwhelmingly ignored the calls to militancy, said Charles Kurzman, a researcher with the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in North Carolina.