I hang my head in shame.

By Carl Strock dailygazette.com 10/12/06

Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, two local Muslim men who were minding their own business until the FBI came into their lives, have been convicted of supporting terrorism, of all things.

Convicted by a jury of my peers. Not necessarily their peers, but my peers, meaning ordinary middle-class people from upstate New York, who sat patiently for 12 days and listened to evidence that in my opinion was an embarrassment to our country, or should have been an embarrassment to our country, and then sat for another 3 1/2 days and discussed that evidence before arriving at their verdict.


Guilty of conspiring to do something that the two probably did not understand, that in any event they never dreamed of doing until an FBI undercover operative tricked them into it (an exchange of checks for cash) and that they were so sure was OK they insisted on putting it in writing.

They were even found guilty of providing support to a terrorist organization fighting in Kashmir that one of them kept telling the FBI’s snitch, who was secretly recording everything, that he didn’t know anything about and that the other one thought was a musical group.

Such is the fear of Muslim terrorism, I guess. Such is the irrationality that has seized us since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Such is the determination not to take any chances.

That we expend God knows what resources – in FBI agents, translators, hidden recorders, missile experts – to play what amounts to an elaborate prank on two unsuspecting Muslim men just to see if they will fall for it, which they only partially did.

The bizarre thing is that the two, far from being terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, are not even radicals within the Islamic universe. They are altogether moderate. In 50 hours of secretly taped conversation that the FBI produced for our delectation (and we don’t know how many more hours that didn’t mate the cut), not once did they advocate violence, not once did they express admiration or support for al-Qaida.

On the contrary, one of them counseled the FBI’s snitch, a Pakistani con-man, to stay away from the people with whom he was supposedly dealing “ammunitions,” including a shoulder-fired missile, which was an FBI prop deployed in this prank. He argued that Islam would spread by Muslims doing good.

The other urged support for refugee women and children in Kashmir, if the snitch wanted to help Kashmir, and in an old diary that the FBI confiscated and translated he supported parliamentary government as against Islamic extremism.

And yet a jury convicted them. Of course I wanted to talk to the jurors after they were discharged, to ask them what went through their heads, and I pursued them out through the parking garage next to the courthouse, down on Broadway in Albany, for that purpose, but they wouldn’t talk. They got in their cars and drove off, so I got no satisfaction in that department.

Full article: nepajac.org