To commemorate the 11th anniversary of the arrests of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain on August 4, 2004, two Muslim men entrapped in a phony FBI sting operation in Albany, seventeen area peace and justice groups will present a free screening of the Peabody Award-winning documentary The Newburgh Sting on Monday, August 3 at 7 p.m. at The Linda339 Central Ave. in Albany. The film will be preceded by a rally and dinner at the Masjid As-Salam, 280 Central Ave., at 5:30 p.m., and then a 6:45 p.m. march up Central Avenue to The Linda, WAMC-FM’s performing arts theater.

The Aref-Hossain case, which went to trial in 2006 and resulted in 15-year sentences for these respected members of the Albany community, received nationwide publicity. The government informant who entrapped the men, Shahed Hussain, was the same informant who later engineered the Newburgh sting case in 2009, one of the most controversial terrorism cases yet prosecuted.

Four African American men from Newburgh, New York were convicted in that case and sentenced to 25 years each. The Newburgh Sting is a detailed look at the use of FBI informants to turn innocent people into terrorists, and indicts government overreach in the “war on terror.” It draws a troubling portrait of a federal agency more concerned with its image and ability to produce evidence than with justice. For “raising the uneasy question of how tenuous justice can be when it contradicts U.S. official aims, and for offering the sobering realization that fact can be more dangerous than fiction,” The Newburgh Sting won a prestigious Peabody Award in 2014. The film was also shown on HBO.

Featured speakers at the rally at 5:30 p.m. at the Masjid As-Salam will be Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the masjid, and Steve Downs, executive director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. A light dinner will then be served. Screening of The Newburgh Sting (90 minutes) at 7 p.m. will be followed by an open forum featuring Alicia McWilliams, aunt of David Williams, one of the Newburgh Four defendants. Admission to the film is free, with the option of a goodwill donation.

Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, whose families still reside in Albany, will be released from federal prison in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

Sponsors of the events are the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and the Aref-Hossain chapter of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. Co-sponsors are Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI), Dr. Dhafir Support Committee (Syracuse), Interfaith Alliance, Jewish Voice for Peace/Albany chapter, Masjid As-Salam, New York Civil Liberties Union/Capital Region Chapter, Palestinian Rights Committee, Saratoga Peace Alliance, Save the Pine Bush, Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, Upper Hudson Peace Action, Veterans for Peace/Thomas Paine and Saratoga Chapters, and Women Against War.

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5:30 p.m.: rally, speakers, dinner at Masjid As-Salam, 280 Central Ave.

6:45 p.m.: march up Central Ave. to The Linda, 339 Central Ave.

7 p.m.: screening of The Newburgh Sting, The Linda, 339 Central Ave., open forum to follow

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July 20, 2015

Contact:         Lynne Jackson, 366-7324 (cell),

Kathy Manley, 596-3851 (cell),

Trailer for The Newburgh Sting

Project SALAM:

National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms: