For Immediate Release: September 13, 2011

Contact: Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims)

Kathy Manley, Esq., attorney for Project SALAM:

Steve Downs, Esq., attorney for Project SALAM:

Please Attend Upcoming Trial in New Bern, North Carolina on September 19

Albany, New York —— We are writing as representatives of Project SALAM, a nationwide group of people who have witnessed various “terrorism” trials in different parts of the country and who have concluded that innocent Muslims are being targeted and convicted for crimes they have not committed. Project SALAM is devoted to researching and documenting the likelihood that the United States Justice Department’s post-9/11 prosecutions of “terrorists” have included a significant number of Muslims who are, in fact, innocent of any crime. We believe other cases have been severely overcharged and/or over-sentenced. On our website,, we present summaries of many of these cases and explain why we think these trials are unfair. Several independent journalists agree with us, as shown in these recent articles in major magazines:

– “Little Gitmo” by Christopher Stewart in New York Magazine,

– “To Catch a Terrorist” by Petra Bartosiewicz in Harper’s Magazine,

– “The Informants” by Trevor Aaronson in Mother Jones,

On September 19, 2011, a trial is scheduled to take place in New Bern, North Carolina, that accuses a number of individuals of terrorism, including twenty-one-year-old Ziyad Yaghi. The trial is expected to last about seven weeks. Project SALAM has been following this case because we believe it may be another example of an unfair prosecution. For this reason, we are urging people to attend the trial. You can read about Yaghi’s situation at:

We believe that only by observing these trials can fair-minded people decide whether the trials are just and the defendants guilty or innocent. The prosecution typically has had many months to leak one-sided information and present its case in the media, which in turn has cooperated and painted a biased picture of what the evidence will show. But courtroom observers are frequently surprised at the insufficiency of the government’s evidence and the unfair tricks the government uses to win convictions. We have found that when the public shows interest in a trial, the media reporting is more accurate, the government is less likely to play on prejudice, and all communities are better served.

Defendants in “terrorism” trials face daunting obstacles that other defendant do not usually encounter. The government may deploy wholly unwarranted security precautions as a way to prejudice the jury. The accused are often held without bail in solitary confinement for years before coming to trial. The media labels them “supporters of terrorism” and thus they are vilified and pronounced guilty long before they come anywhere near a court of law. At trial, they may be confronted with secret or classified evidence. They are not given a jury of their peers, rather a jury that may well start with a bias against Muslims. Some defendants, knowing they have no chance of a fair trial in the current climate, accept plea deals for a guaranteed sentence of perhaps fifteen years, rather than gambling with their lives in an


unjust trial and receiving a sentence of perhaps seventy years. “Terrorism” trials often lead to condemnation of the Muslim community as a whole and to the impoverishment of the families and children of the accused.  Thus it is important for the non-Muslim community to become involved in these trials to ensure that the Muslim community, as well as the defendants and their families, receive support and compassion in this difficult time.

We hope that many people will attend the trial of Ziyad Yaghi and his co-defendants in New Bern, North Carolina on September 19. If you know someone living near New Bern, please let them know about the trial.  To confirm the trial’s start date, you can write to the U.S. District Court, 413 Middle Street, New Bern, NC, 28560-4930, since court calendars are often changed at the last minute. You can also contact Laila Yaghi, Ziyad’s mother, who can answer any questions you might have; her e-mail address is If you are unable to attend but would still like to help, please consider offering help in some way to the families of the defendants. In many communities, both Muslims and non-Muslims have formed groups to support the families of Muslim defendants, and have found in their common work ways to build bridges between religious and secular communities.‬

At a time of growing Islamophobia, it is especially important to ensure that Muslim defendants receive a fair trial.  If the government can bring false charges against Muslims, it can bring false charges against any of us. An attack on one religion can lead to attacks on others. The words of Pastor Martin Niemöller are as true today as they were in 1940s Germany, except here in the United States it is Muslims who are being persecuted:

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”