Portraits of Injustice                  A Visit with Ziyad Yaghi in
August 15, 2017                                    Florence, Colorado

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“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.” ~Montesquieu
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 Waiting at the front gate. USP Florence – High, Florence, Colorado.
A Visit with Ziyad Yaghi

Dear Friends,

Last weekend, I accompanied Laila Yaghi to visit her son, Ziyad, in a high security prison in Florence, Colorado. This was the first time Laila had seen her son in a year and a half. It is 1700 miles from Laila’s home in Raleigh, NC to Florence, and is a very expensive trip.

Ziyad Yaghi was convicted in October 2011 of possibly committing some unspecified crime in an unknown place at an unspecified time in the future. For something the government thinks he might do someday, Ziyad was sentenced to more than 31 years.  His release date is 2037.
 
From the highway, this prison complex looks like a college campus. As you enter, the prison camp is on the left and the low security section is on the right.  Then you go over a hill and down, you see the medium security and then the high security section, and it is now looking much more like a prison. Beyond this, you see the guard towers of the Supermax.
 
Among other prisoners, the Supermax is home to Eljvir Duka and Ahmed Abu Ali.  Neither of them committed any violence, but both have been sentenced to life in prison. Both are in solitary confinement under extremely harsh conditions.

After our six-hour visit on Saturday with Ziyad, we emerged from the prison to learn about the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally that led to three deaths and over 30 people injured.  
 
It struck me as very ironic that even though there are more than twice as many terrorist incidents by white right-wing extremists than by Islamist extremists, our government continues to focus the search for terrorism in the Muslim community.  In the meantime, right-wing extremism, a very real threat to democracy, has been allowed to grow much stronger.

Take Action

The photo at left is Ziyad with his nephew in happier times before his arrest.

If you would like to write to Ziyad, the address is below:

Ziyad Yaghi #51771-056
USP Florence – High
U.S. Penitentiary
P.O. Box 7000
Florence, CO 81226
 

For more information:

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Jan/Feb, 2014): The Sentencing of Ziyad Yaghi: “This Is Wrong! This Is Speech!”

The Intercept (June 25, 2016): Christie’s Conspiracy. The Real Story Behind the Fort Dix Five Terror Plot

Counter Punch (June 28, 2013): The Harrowing Tale of Ahmed Abu Ali

Huffington Post (June 23, 2017): Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim

In solidarity,

Mel Underbakke, Ph.D.
Executive Director, NCPCF

NCPCF Mission
Established in October 2010, the NCPCF is a coalition of national and local organizations as well as prominent individuals, whose mission is: To educate the public about the erosion of civil liberties and political freedoms in society; to provide legal advocacy and support for prisoners within the U.S. criminal justice system and their families targeted after 9/11; and to defend and preserve the rights of all people according to the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions
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Member Organizations
Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) – Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) – Desis, Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) – Friends of Human Rights (FHR) – International Action Center (IAC) – Islamic Circle of North America Council for Social Justice (ICNA-CSJ) – Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) – National Lawyers Guild (NLG)  – The Aafia Foundation  – Project Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims (Project SALAM) – United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) 

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