- A personal note. Writing about America's political prisoners
is essential to defend freedom, justice, and other democratic values, especially
wrongfully persecuted Muslims for political advantage. I communicate directly
with five notable victims, all of whom I greatly respect, including:
- -- attorneys Lynne Stewart and Paul Bergrin;
- -- Yassin Aref;
- -- Dr. Rafil Dhafir; and
- -- Shukri Abu-Baker.
- I've also written about them all, discussed them on the
Progressive Radio News Hour, and am committed to help achieve justice so
far denied them.
- This article concerns Abu-Baker, after Rafil Dhafir emailed
me the following from Terre Haute, IN federal prison Communications Management
Unit's (CMU) segregation section where Muslims receive excessively punitive
- "Last night Shukri Baker, here in CMU, got a call
from his family that his daughter Sanabil is dying in the hospital. She
has cystic fibrosis, Thalassemia major and diabetes. She is not eligible
for lung transplant. She is only 24 who has only 2 months left to finish
- He is distraught. With tears in his eyes he kept asking:
- 'What did I do to this country to deny me enough time
to talk to my dying daughter by phone? Why am I not allowed to hug my baby
in her last days of her life? Who is going to council my young daughters
and their mother in this hour of grief and uncertainty?'
- He asked for extra phone calls to straighten things out.
He was given the run around. The Chaplain claimed that he is new and does
not know the procedure for approval. Those who can be talked to are no
where to be found. It was late Friday when he learned of his daughter's
- It broke my heart to see this great man who helped save
the lives of millions in places far away from here, who never hurt anyone
intentionally, and who dedicated his life to saving and relieving children
and needy people be denied the right of a human being to see his dying
daughter off and to help his own children.
- It is cruel to imprison one for providing relief but
it is far worse in cruelty to deny such person the comfort of talking to
his dying child. Would one then wonder why these calamities befall the
world all over?"
- Dr. Rafil Dhafir's Wrongful Conviction for His "Crime
- Activist Katherine Hughes explained Dhafir's case in
her 2006 article by that title. A Muslim American of Iraqi descent, he
practiced oncology until wrongfully convicted for violating Iraqi Sanctions
Regulations (IEEPA), using his own funds and what his Help the Needy charity
raised to bring desperately needed aid to Iraqis in the 1990s.
- Yet, he was convicted on 59 of 60 bogus charges, including
tax fraud, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, imprisoning him for 22
years. Like Shukri Baker and other Muslims, he's incarcerated at Terre
Haute's infamous CMU. More on it below.
- Shukri Abu-Baker: President and CEO of the Holy Foundation
- A previous article explained his case, accessed through
the following link:
- A later article followed the sentencing of HLF's five
principles. Abu-Baker and Chairman Ghassan Elashi each got 65 years for
- -- financial aid to needy and impoverished families;
- -- a sponsorship program for orphaned children;
- -- various social services;
- -- educational services;
- -- medical and other emergency work; and
- -- community development, including help to rebuild Palestinian
homes on their own land in their own country that Israel lawlessly destroyed.
- They, in fact, described their work as follows, saying
- "We gave:
- -- books, not bombs;
- -- bread, not bullets;
- -- smiles, not scars;
- -- toys, not tanks;
- -- peace, not terror;
- -- liberty, not poverty;
- -- hope, not despair;
- -- love, not hate; (and)
- -- life, not death.
- So we ask: If (over six decades of occupation) obviously
shatters lives, while charity builds them and charity feeds children, while
occupation kills them, why is a charity organization - not occupation -
paying the price?"
- They, in fact, broke no laws, committee no crimes, but
were targeted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism and charity,
the two main principles getting a de facto life sentence for being Muslims
at the wrong time in America, like many others wrongfully imprisoned.
- They provided essential relief to Palestinian refugees
in Occupied Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as to needy recipients
in Bosnia, Albania, Chechnya, Turkey and America.
- Three other principles, included:
- -- volunteer Mufid Abdulqader - 20 years;
- -- New Jersey office director Abdulrahman Odeh - 15 years,
- -- California office director Mohammad El-Mezain - 15
- They were convicted on most or all 108 counts, including
supporting a terrorist organization, money laundering and tax fraud. They
also incurred a $12.4 million fine, impossible to pay nor should they.
- Communications Management Unit (CMU) Imprisonment
- A previous article explained its lawlessness, accessed
through the following link:
- It's for so-called "high-security risk" Muslim
and Middle Eastern prisoners in violation of federal law, prohibiting severely
limiting or cutting them off entirely from other inmates, as well as outside
contacts and communications.
- Segregating prisoners by race, national origin, or language
violates the Supreme Court's February 2005 Johnson v. California decision,
affirming 14th Amendment protection against racial discrimination. Specifically,
- "rejected the notion that separate can ever be equal-or
'neutral' - 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education" repudiated
it. This court "refuses to resurrect it today."
- US Prison Bureau regulations also stipulate that "staff
shall not discriminate against inmates on the basis of race, religion,
national origin, sex, disability, or political belief (including) administrative
decisions (involving) access to work, housing and programs."
- Nonetheless, the Bush administration instituted these
practices. Under Obama, they continue unabated at Terre Haute, IN and Marion,
IL federal prison Communications Management Units (CMU). Perhaps additional
federal and state facilities will follow for other wrongfully persecuted
- They're to assure they get fewer rights and privileges
than other prisoners, including allowable communications. Also:
- -- poorer food quality, amount, or that conforms to a
strict Muslim diet;
- -- proper medical care; and
- -- virtually everything else, prison authorities given
much latitude to do as they please, including violating Bureau of Prisons
regulations and US law.
- As a result, emergency medical care takes days or longer
to receive. Essential care can take weeks, months or be denied. Other mistreatment
includes harassment, intimidation, food rationing, the serving of forbidden-to-eat
kinds, frequent "shake-downs," and removal or theft of personal
possessions. Also rejection of simple requests, delay or denial of mail
and other communications, as well as restricting them altogether.
- In other words, Muslims are fair game to be treated any
way prison authorities wish. They take full advantage against glorious
men like Dhafir, Abu-Baker, and many others deserving honor, not prison.
- Instead, they're out of sight and mind, wrongfully denied
justice by a lawless nation, withholding it from innocent victims targeted
at home and abroad.
- 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 Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.