Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, and the Death Penalty, Pt 1

Who Is Really Behind Government Use Of Secret Evidence?

In 1996, one of the most unconstitutional pieces of legislation in recent memory was passed in Congress with bipartisan support: the Omnibus Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Around the time that this legislation was being debated – which ironically got stuck in committee until the Oklahoma City bombing (an act of domestic terrorism) – I remember hearing rumors of it having been crafted in Israel and funneled through the Clinton Administration. Beyond the persistent rumor, however, there was nothing that anyone could hang his hat on, until now. A recent occurrence has given substance to the rumor.

On May 23, the full House Judiciary Committee, presided over by Chairman Henry Hyde, held a hearing on H.R. 2121 (the Secret Evidence Repeal Act); the witness list was revealing. Apart from the two government attorneys – Messers Larry R. Parkinson (FBI General Counsel) and Bo Cooper (INS General Counsel) – the only other opponents of the bill to testify were Jewish; Messers Bruce Ramer (president, American Jewish Committee), Thomas Homburger (Natl. Exec. Cmte., Anti-Defamation League), the already spent Steven Emerson (Terrorism Newswire), and Stephen Flatow (described as a “victim of terrorism”).

While this should be enough to raise some otherwise skeptical eyebrows, there is more. When we closely examine the circumstances surrounding a number of Muslim political prisoners, resulting from the government’s selective use of secret evidence, a revealing pattern emerges. Egyptian-born Nasser Ahmed, released from 3 1/2 years of political detention without charge last November, was a close confidant and served as a court appointed paralegal of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman – the only blind man in U.S. history to be charged with leading a seditious conspiracy against the United States. Sheikh Omar, along with a number of other co-defendants, was convicted in an overtly biased proceeding that masqueraded as a trial; each received a 240 year sentence. Sheikh Omar was a threat to the Mubarak regime, and any threat to the Egyptian government is a threat to Israel.

Dr. Ali Yasin Mohammed Karim, imprisoned since March 1997, is a Muslim from Iraq of Kurdish extraction. An opponent of Saddam Hussein, Dr. Karim was among a significant number of Kurds airlifted out of Iraq by the US after a failed CIA operation in northern Iraq. Upon their arrival in California, however, he and five others (the “Iraqi Six”) were sent to prison as national security threats based on secret evidence. Former CIA director James Woolsey who became involved in the case, has called their treatment, “A stain on America’s honor.” It is a known fact that Israel has been intimately involved at every level of US Iraq policy.

Dr. Mazen al-Najjar, imprisoned since May 1997, is a stateless Palestinian who has been a resident in the US for 18 years. It appears that Dr. al-Najjar, a respected University of South Florida professor, became a target as a result of his association with a think tank that was based at the university. It appears that the USF Middle East Committee was enjoying such success in promoting wide-ranging dialogue on mideast issues that it attracted the attention of Israeli consulate officials from Miami, who in 1994 became frequent visitors to newsrooms around the state.

A series of biased reports against the think tank began to emerge, traced to Steven Emerson and the Tampa Tribune, and for nearly four years the FBI pursued Muslims in Tampa looking for evidence of a crime. There was none. The former FBI Chief of counterterrorism, Bob Blitzer, informed journalist John Sugg, that although the Muslim academics supported Palestinian causes, “no federal laws were broken.” In addition, an Associated Press article placed on the wire on May 23, 1997, dismissed the investigations as a farce; the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, and an exhaustive investigation by former president of the American Bar Association, William Reese Smith, also reported that what happened in Florida was First Amendment protected activity.

Despite no evidence of wrong doing, however, coupled with the irrefutable evidence of Israeli interests behind the false propaganda, Mazen al-Najjar has entered his third year of imprisonment without charge! (An excellent cover story was done on this issue by award winning journalist John F. Sugg, in the July-August 1999 edition of The Link.)

Finally, the case that I consider to be the most egregious of all is that of Algerian political leader Dr. Anwar Haddam. A member of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Dr. Haddam was elected to the Parliament of Algeria in December 1991. After the military coup in January 1992, members of the FIS were reportedly imprisoned and tortured; some were killed, while others like Dr. Haddam were able to get out of the country. Anwar Haddam was selected to head the FIS Parliamentary Delegation Abroad, to pursue a peaceful and just resolution of the Algerian crisis.

On December 6, 1996, Dr. Haddam was detained by the INS and placed in exclusion proceedings – despite his having been previously issued valid parole status in the US through February 16, 1997! With his imprisonment as a “national security threat,” on the basis of secret evidence, a struggle ensued to challenge both the legitimacy and legality of Dr. Haddam’s open-ended detention. In response to a request made by Dr. Haddam’s legal counsel – for a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) advisory opinion regarding his application for asylum and withholding of deportation – Acting Regional Representative Bemma Donkoh wrote in the final paragraph of the opinion (rendered June 12, 1998): “As certain facts are in dispute in Mr. Haddam’s case, and some evidence has been withheld from review as classified, we have limited our analysis to the findings of the Immigration Court. Based upon the Immigration Court’s opinion, however, we conclude that grounds for applying the exclusion clauses of the 1951 Convention have not been established in Mr. Haddam’s case.”

A revealing quote, particularly in light of revelations made during the writ of habeas corpus proceedings in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in 1998-99 (Anwar Haddam v. Janet Reno). This writer was present at several of these hearings, and witnessed the presiding judge (T.S. Ellis III) repeatedly admonish the government lawyers to make their case against Haddam’s being “a national security threat.” They couldn’t, because there wasn’t any case to be made.

Nevertheless, this same judge decided against giving relief to Dr. Haddam, in favor of the INS district director’s discretionary authority. A disturbing footnote attached to Judge Ellis’ decision says it all: “It is worth noting that the conclusion reached here does not, of course, represent any judicial finding that Haddam is engaged in or associated with terrorism, or that he is a risk of flight; instead, it is merely a judicial finding that the district director’s decision is neither unreasonable nor irrational. And thus, it is open to the IJ, BIA or another reviewing court to reach conclusions contrary to the district director.”

Meanwhile a “democratically elected” political figure remains in open-ended detention, while the nation that elected him remains in crisis. Instability that serves the interests of the Zionist State (Israel) which has made clear its animate opposition to any genuine Islamic governmental presence anywhere in the region. (It should also be noted that Dr. Anwar Haddam was recently granted political asylum and within 48 hours of receiving notice, had it arbitrarily rescinded!)

In my conclusion, the first American president (General George Washington) warned against the pitfalls of a policy of granting “favorite nation status” – a path that succeeding presidents and a host of other politicians and policymakers have, unfortunately, chosen to follow. The president cautioned in his farewell address to the Union: “It gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens [who devote themselves to the favorite nation] the facility to betray or sacrifice the interest of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.”

A corollary of such a policy is that respected institutions wind up being diminished or destroyed, as the following quote will attest: “Prominent investigative reporter Alexander Cockburn has called the secret evidence cases against Arabs and Muslims, ‘an ugly affair whose bottom line is whether the Israeli government can reach into US courts…to inhibit the most basic rights of US citizens.'” (The Link, July-August 1999) Indeed, the makeup of the opposition on May 23, 2000, was not by chance.