Post-9/11, the Bush administration
declared war on terror. It was sham cover for eroding personal freedoms
and waging war on humanity.
Muslims became prime targets. They've been victimized, vilified, and
persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity.
They've been hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation,
denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence,
convicted on bogus charges, and given long sentences.
They've been incarcerated in segregated Communication Management Units
(CMUs). Doing so violates US Prison Bureau regulations and the Supreme
Court's February 2005 Johnson v. California decision.
They're political prisoners, not criminals. Based on scoundrel media
reports, you'd never know it. They're complicit supporters of state
On October 21, 2009, Mehanna was wrongfully and maliciously charged
with "conspir(ing) with Ahmad Abousamra and others to provide material
support and resources for use in carrying out a conspiracy to kill,
kidnap, main or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country
and extraterritorial homicide of a US national."
No evidence whatever proved it. Nonetheless, he was accused of conspiring
with others "to participate in violent jihad against American interests
and that they would talk about fighting jihad and their desire to die
on the battlefield."
False charges also claimed they "attempted to radicalize others and
inspire each other by, among other things, watching and distributing
In fact, there was no plot, no crime, no intent to commit one, and no
evidence proving otherwise. He was targeted for posting pro-jihadist
material online. According to Massachusetts ACLU education director
"It might be speech that horrifies people, but it's the nature of the
First Amendment to protect that speech, unless it's leading to imminent
No matter. On June 24, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled nonviolent speech
and advocacy "coordinated with (or) under the direction of" foreign
terrorist groups illegal.
In other words, lawful nonviolent political advocacy, peace conference
participation, human rights advocacy training, related legal services
and advice, as well as donating cash and humanitarian aid may be unconstitutionally
used to convict.
In its 6 - 3 ruling, doing so the Court said violated the Patriot Act
prohibition against providing material support to groups designated
Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the High Court ruled government can't
punish inflammatory speech unless directed to incite lawless action.
In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Justice William Brennan wrote the majority
"(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it
is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply
because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable."
Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall added:
"Above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power
to restrict expression (regardless of its) ideas…subject matter (or)
content….Our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought,
free from government censorship."
Today's High Court has no Brennans or Marshalls. Attornies General like
Ramsey Clark no longer exist.
No wonder Mehanna was convicted. "Secret evidence," unavailable to defense
attorneys, was elaborately manipulated to do it. Justice was nowhere
in sight. First Amendment rights don't matter. Without them all others
are at risk.
Already gravely eroded, they're perilously close to disappearing all
together. America's on a slippery slope to tyranny. Freedom hangs by
a thread. Anyone challenging state power is vulnerable. Constitutional
protections don't apply.
Intimidated juries most always go along with prosecutors. On December
20, Mehanna was found guilty on seven counts of "conspiring to provide
material support to terrorists, conspiring to kill in a foreign country,
and of lying to authorities in a terrorism investigation."
Obama got another trophy. Unpopular views may be criminalized.
On April 12, sentencing was pronounced. An FBI Boston Division announced
"A Sudbury, Massachusetts man who was convicted last year on charges
that he conspired to kill Americans was sentenced today to 17.5 years
in federal prison."
"US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. sentenced Tarek Mehanna,
29, to 210 months, to be followed by seven years of supervised release."
"Mehanna was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to
al Qaeda, providing material support to terrorists (and conspiracy to
do so), conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, conspiracy
to make false statements to the FBI, and two counts of making false
Last December, the ACLU of Massachusetts condemned the conviction, saying
it "undermine(d) the First Amendment and threaten(ed) national security."
"Under the government's theory of the case, ordinary people - including
writers and journalists, academic researchers, translators, and even
ordinary web surfers - could be prosecuted for researching or translating
controversial and unpopular ideas. If the verdict is not overturned
on appeal, the First Amendment will be seriously compromised."
On April 13, the Boston Globe reported Mehanna's father, Ahmed, expressing
outrage about his conviction. He said it shows America is more repressive
than the Egyptian government he grew up under decades earlier.
Mehanna's support committee issued a statement, saying:
"This isn't over....This is bigger than Tarek and it's bigger than his
family. It affects all of you reading this....Tarek, we stand with you,
helping to bear" up against state oppression. "When we share our struggle,
we are never alone."
Those who know Mehanna call him "humble, reserved, warm, compassionate,
intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated." He challenges injustice,
advocates for Muslim prisoners, and helps people in need.
No matter. He'll spend the next 17.5 years in prison for doing the right
thing. Obama prosecutors call it terrorism or conspiracy to commit it.
It's the wrong time to be Muslim in America. Moreover, we're all as
vulnerable as Tarek.
Mehanna's Sentencing Statement
"I learned about the American-led sanctions that prevented food, medicine,
and medical equipment from entering Iraq, and how according to the
United Nations over half a million children perished as a result."
"I remember a clip from a ’60 Minutes‘ interview of Madeline Albright
where she expressed her view that these dead children were 'worth it.'
I watched on September 11th as a group of people felt driven to hijack
airplanes and fly them into buildings from their outrage at the deaths
of these children."
"I watched as America then attacked and invaded Iraq directly. I saw
the effects of shock and awe in the opening day of the invasion the
children in hospital wards with shrapnel from American missiles sticking
but of their foreheads."
"I learned about the town of Haditha, where 24 Muslims including a
76-year old man in a wheelchair, women, and even toddlers were shot
up and blown up in their bedclothes as the slept by US Marines. I learned
about Abeer al-Janabi, a fourteen-year old Iraqi girl gang-raped by
five American soldiers, who then shot her and her family in the head,
then set fire to their corpses."
"I just want to point out, as you can see, Muslim women don’t even show
their hair to unrelated men. So try to imagine this young girl from
a conservative village with her dress torn off, being sexually assaulted
by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five soldiers."
"Even today, as I sit in my jail cell, I read about the drone strikes
which continue to kill Muslims daily in places like Pakistan, Somalia,
and Yemen. Just last month, we all heard about the seventeen Afghan
Muslims mostly mothers and their kids shot to death by an American
soldier, who also set fire to their corpses."
I mentioned Paul Revere when he went on his midnight ride, it was
for the purpose of warning the people that the British were marching
to Lexington to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, then on to Concord
to confiscate the weapons stored there by the Minuteman."
By the time they got to Concord, they found the Minuteman waiting for
them, weapons in hand. They fired at the British, fought them, and beat
them. From that battle came the American Revolution. There’s an Arabic
word to describe what those Minutemen did that day. That word is: JIHAD,
and this is what my trial was about."
"All those videos and translations and childish bickering over ‘Oh,
he translated this paragraph’ and ‘Oh, he edited that sentence,’ and
all those exhibits revolved around a single issue: Muslims who were
defending themselves against American soldiers doing to them exactly
what the British did to America."
"It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to 'kill
Americans' at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s
own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert
up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word,
who explained my beliefs."
"Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to
prod me into one of their little 'terror plots,' but I refused to participate.
Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this."
A Final Comment
Tarek reflects the best of what America should be, but never was and
isn't now. He'll suffer in prison. So do thousands of others wrongfully
convicted. America's gulag is notorious. It's the world's largest by
It's the shame of the nation. It reflects repression, not justice. Those
most vulnerable are victimized. Muslims are target one.
What kind of society criminalizes praying to the wrong God? What's ahead
if public rage won't challenge it? Imagine the worst because it's coming.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
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