Tag Archives: terrorism

No Separate Justice: Advocates & Families Impacted by the “War on Terror” Launch New Campaign Challenging Prosecutorial Overreach & Unjust Incarceration

No Separate Justice: Advocates & Families Impacted by the “War on Terror” Launch New Campaign Challenging Prosecutorial Overreach & Unjust Incarceration

[NEW YORK, NY]   On January 7, 2014, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Educators for Civil Liberties, CUNY School of Law’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project, and Amnesty International USA will host a panel discussion to launch  “No Separate Justice: A Post-9/11 Domestic Human Rights Campaign.” This new campaign aims to shed light on and end a pattern of human rights and civil liberties abuses in “War on Terror” cases in the criminal justice system.

A focal point of this new effort will be monthly vigils held outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan, a federal detention center where people accused of terrorism-related offenses have been held in solitary confinement for years, even before they have been tried.

The panel will include discussion of the case of Syed Fahad Hashmi, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence at the federal “supermax” prison in Colorado on material support charges, after three years of pre-trial solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures at the MCC in New York. It will highlight efforts by the Center for Constitutional Rights and allies to challenge Fahad’s inhumane conditions of confinement, and show how Fahad’s treatment is part of a pattern of rights violations in other “War on Terror” cases, based on extensive research into terrorism prosecutions. Family members of other federal terrorism prisoners will also participate on the panel.

This January 7 campaign-launch event dovetails with a year-long series, “America After 9/11” – a collaboration between The Nation and Educators for Civil Liberties – which features monthly articles examining facets of the domestic “War on Terror.”



Liliana Segura
Specializing in the prison industrial complex and harsh sentencing Liliana is a former editor at The Nation magazine and is currently a founding partner at Glenn Greenwald’s new public service journalism venture, First Look.


Pardiss Kebriaei
Pardiss is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2007. Her work focuses on challenging government abuses post-9/11, including in the areas of “targeted killing“ and unjust detentions at Guantanamo and in the federal system. Pardiss represents Fahad Hashmi.


Tamer Mehanna

Tamer’s brother, Tarek Mehanna, was convicted under broad allegations of “material support to terrorists” for 1st amendment protected activities, and is currently imprisoned at the Federal Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, IN.

Sonali Sadequee

Sonali’s brother, Ehsanul “Shifa” Sadequee, was held for three years in pre-trial solitary confinement while charged under the “material support” statute and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, IN. As a member of the Sadequee family and Free Shifa Campaign, Sonali organizes and speaks publicly to expose the inherent injustices of the War on Terror and the prison complex.

Sarah Khasawinah

Sarah is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a friend of the Abu-Ali family and will be speaking on behalf of Ahmed Abu-Ali (sentenced to life in prison based on a confession he maintains was coerced through torture while in a Saudi prison). Since 2005 Ahmed has been in held in solitary confinement. He is currently at the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, CO.

Tarek Ismail

As a fellow at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute Tarek develops research and policy at the intersection of human rights and U.S. counterterrorism policies, with a particular focus on issues affecting Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities in the United States, including racial profiling, selective prosecution, and the use of informants and sting operations.

Faisal Hashmi

Co-founder of the Muslim Justice Initiative. Faisal’s brother, Fahad, was accused of providing material support to Al-Qaeda. He is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Federal “Supermax” Prison, ADX-Florence, Colorado.

WHAT: Panel Discussion & Launch Event
WHEN: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | 7:00pm-9:00pm
WHERE: Judson Memorial Church | 55 Washington Square South, New York 10012
INFO: Facebook RSVP | media RSVP andy@sparrowmedia.net

To arrange an interview with any of the speakers & presenters please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010

In Search of Prisoner 650, The Story of Aafia Siddiqui: A Free Film Screening & Press Conference at NYC’s Diversity Plaza

In Search of Prisoner 650, The Story of Aafia Siddiqui: A Free Film Screening & Press Conference at NYC’s Diversity Plaza

[NEW YORK, NY]  As the United Nations convenes for its annual general meeting in New York this September, the timing coincides with the anniversary of the 86-year-long prison sentence handed to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui by Richard Berman on September 23, 2010.  A ruling viewed by many international activists as a black eye for the UN’s Human Rights Charter.

This year, to mark the 3rd anniversary of Siddiqui’s sentencing, civic and human rights groups are staging a press conference and free screening of the documentary portrait of Siddiqui, ‘Prisoner 650’ by Yvonne Ridley (details posted below).  Taking place this evening, Monday September 23, from 7:30-10pm the screening & presser hopes to reveal illuminating new evidence in the same city where the UN meets to champion Human Rights and where Aafia was prosecuted.

For more than a year, International Justice Network has urged the Government of Pakistan to demand the return of this “daughter of the nation” to her family in Pakistan. Now, more than ever, her fate rests in the Pakistani Government’s hands.  The IJN’s report, Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts, reveals new evidence contradicting official statements from the governments of both Pakistan and the United States that Dr. Siddiqui was not detained in their custody prior to her arrest in Ghazni, Afghanistan in July of 2008. IJN has obtained a secret audio recording of a senior Pakistani official who admits he was personally involved in the arrest of Dr. Siddiqui and her children in 2003. This account is corroborated by substantial documentary evidence and witness testimony, which all points to the same conclusion—that Dr. Siddiqui and her three children were initially arrested in March 2003 with the knowledge and cooperation of local authorities in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) as well as U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Regardless of whether any of the allegations against Dr. Siddiqui are true, or whether other grounds for her repatriation may exist, her return to Pakistan should be expedited by both goernments on humanitarian grounds. Her mental and physical health has severely declined, and continues to deteriorate every day that she remains imprisoned. IJN urges both governments to take immediate action to bring Dr. Aafia Siddiqui home.

More broadly, there can be little doubt that Dr. Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan from the United States would do a great deal to repair some of the damage done to the diplomatic relationship between the two nations. Until then, the International Justice Network will continue to expose the truth and seek justice for Dr. Siddiqui and the thousands of other prisoners who have been imprisoned as part of the U.S. government’s “global war on terror.”


Sara Flounders,  International Action Network
Mauri Saalakhan,  Peace thru Justice Foundation
Steve Downs,  National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
Fahd Ahmed,  Desis Rising Up and Moving

Monday September 23, 2013, 7:30-10pm
WHERE: Diversity Plaza, Jackson Heights, Queens NY
FOR MORE INFO: Contact justicebythepen@gmail.com

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

[Albany / Binghamton, NY]  Yassin Aref, the Albany imam convicted of material support for terrorism along with pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain in a 2006 FBI sting operation, will file a § 2255 petition in mid-July requesting, among other remedies, for his conviction to be overturned, or alternatively, a new trial be granted. Aref discovered significant new evidence about his case as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he made in 2011. This evidence, which misidentified Aref at the inception of the FBI’s investigation, was apparently shown to the trial judge and the appellate court, but not to either the defense attorneys or to the jury at his trial.

The § 2255 motion, can be filed directly by the prisoner if new evidence is found that may materially affect his conviction. Over several years of incarceration, Aref has exhausted his formal appeals (to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City and to the U.S. Supreme Court) and also filed an earlier § 2255 motion, which was unsuccessful, though it did not include presentation of this new evidence.


This newly uncovered evidence shows that as early as December 2002, the FBI mistakenly thought Aref was an Al Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yasin, and that “Yassin Muhiddin Aref” was merely one pseudonym for Mohammed Yasin. In several documents, the FBI gives alternate spellings of Aref’s name, which are always denoted by the designating acronym “IT-UBL” (International Terrorism-Usama bin Laden) and the term “Al Qaeda.” This misidentification predated the beginning of the FBI sting by 1½ years, which commenced in August 2003. Aref’s § 2255 motion states that it is probable that “the misidentification of Aref caused the case to become a priority in Washington, D.C. …Petitioner Aref was thus originally targeted based on the FBI erroneously linking him to Al Qaeda.” It is unclear from the FOIA file, which is heavily redacted, why or how this misidentification occurred, although it recurs in different FBI documents dated from 2002 to 2004, up to and including the time of the sting.

Aref’s affidavit to accompany the § 2255 states:

“There is an Al-Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yassin who is reported to have been missing two middle fingers on one hand, who was assassinated in Gaza in 2011. I am still alive and have all my fingers so I cannot be Mohammed Yassin. The government convicted the wrong person and I am a victim of mistaken identity. I have never gone by the name Mohammed Yassin. I know nothing about anyone named Mohammed Yassin. I have never been involved with Al Qaeda. I am completely innocent of the charges against me, and was simply tricked by the FBI into gratuitously witnessing a loan that I believe was entirely legal.”

Aref is serving his 15-year sentence at the low-security federal prison in Loretto, PA.  Aref’s beginning 1/2 of his sentence, served at the Communications Management Unit at Terre Haute, IN, was the focus of a 2011 New York Magazine feature titled ‘Little Gitmo’.  His anticipated release date is in October, 2018.  Federal authorities have indicated they may request immediate deportation upon his release.

Yassin Aref’s 2255 motion requests that the court:

» Unredact those portions of the FOIA file that were sent to Aref

» Provide the defense with a description of the classified material given to the trial and appeal courts, especially material that misidentified Aref as Mohammed Yasin

» Provide the defense with exculpatory material not previously provided at trial

» Grant Yassin Aref a new trial

» Dismiss the charges against Aref on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct

The entire 2255 motion will be posted online at http://www.projectsalam.org once it is filed with the court in mid-July.


Friday, July 12 at 6 pm: Because of the importance of this appeal, the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and the Aref-Hossain / Albany chapter of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) will hold a rally and launch a special event on Friday, July 12 at 6 p.m. at the Masjid As-Salam, 278 Central Avenue in Albany. At the rally, which will also commemorate the ninth anniversary of Aref and Hossain’s arrests in 2004, speakers will discuss the new evidence, its impact on the case, and answer related questions. Speakers will include Kathy Manley, Esq., Aref’s appeal attorney; Honorable Dominick Calsolaro, outgoing Albany Common Council member who sponsored the Albany Resolution in 2010 that calls for the Justice Department to reopen all post-9/11 terrorism cases to determine whether exculpatory information was withheld from the defense; Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the Masjid As-Salam, where Aref was imam; and Lynne Jackson, president of Project SALAM and a Muslim Solidarity Committee member.

yassin aref petition

Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm: Jackson, accompanied by other supporters, will launch the “Journey for Justice,” a walk of 133 miles from Albany to Binghamton. To emphasize the importance of Aref’s appeal, Jackson is circulating an online petition that asks the judge who would hear the appeal, Honorable Thomas McAvoy (who was also the Aref-Hossain case trial judge), to give it serious consideration. Jackson intends to hand-deliver the petition signatures to McAvoy’s home court in Binghamton. Immediately following the rally, the Journey for Justice will depart from the Masjid As-Salam for the Pine Hills Library on Western Avenue (Route 20). The next day, Saturday, July 13, at about 10 a.m., Jackson and supporters will reassemble outside the library and continue the 10-day trek to Binghamton, via Route 20 and then Route 7, at the rate of approximately 13 miles per day. They expect to arrive in Binghamton on Tuesday, July 23 at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse on 15 Henry Street, where a press conference is planned to mark their arrival.

For more information visit Project SALAM’s “Journey for Justice” blog HERE. To sign the petition in support of Aref’s 2255 motion visit his Change.org page HERE. To request an interview with Lynn Jackson or to place media inquiries regarding Yassin Aref’s 2255 please contact Jeanne Finley at (518) 438-8728 or via email at finlandia@nycap.rr.com. You can also contact Lynn Jackson directly at (518) 366-7324 or lynnejackson@mac.com.

Intersections Between the ‘War on Crime’ & ‘War on Terror’: A Town Hall Discussion on Confronting Islamophobia & Repression

Intersections Between the ‘War on Crime’ & ‘War on Terror’: A Town Hall Discussion on Confronting Islamophobia & Repression

[NEW YORK, NY] The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, in partnership with NCPCF, CAIR, DRUM NYC, The Sparrow Project and Justice by the Pen will present a historic “town hall” style discussion on state repression, the prison industrial complex, and the war on terror, This Thursday April 18th, at Riverside Church.  Constance Malcom (Mother of Ramarley Graham) and Yusef Salaam (wrongfully charged in the Central Park Jogger case) will join a dozen presenters —each with unique stories of imprisonment, entrapment, or experiences with clients who are currently imprisoned at facilities like Guantanamo Bay— and field questions from the community and press in an open space format.

The US’ “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror” have produced a parallel system of state violence and social control, manifested through unjust prosecutions and the mass incarceration of people of color. Join us on April 18th from 6:30-8:30pm for a historic town hall discussion wherein we will hear first-hand stories from former prisoners, family members, lawyers, intellectuals, historians and activists about excessive  sentences, discriminatory policing, suppression of political dissent, and mass incarceration.


Constance Malcom
Mother of the late Ramarley Graham. In February 2012, Graham was slain by NYPD officers while unarmed in his grandmother’s Bronx home.

Jazz Hayden
Community activist & founding member of the Campaign to End The New Jim Crow.

Yusef Salaam
Wrongfully convicted in the Central Park jogger case. Yusef sits on the board of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the advisory board for the Learn My History Foundation & Inspired People United for Children.

Shaheena Parveen
Mother of Matin Siraj, who was entrapped & charged as a terrorist in a fabricated NYPD plot to destroy NYC landmarks.

Ramzi Kassem
Lawyer representing multiple detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Airforce Base, & other US “Black Sites” & a supervisor of Creating Law  Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project at CUNY.

Amir Varick
Community Activist sentenced to 25 years to life for a non violent drug offense under the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Co-founder of People Assisting Positive Actions.

Faisal Hashmi
Co-founder of the Muslim Justice Initiative. Faisal’s brother, Fahad, was accused of providing material support to Al-Qaeda.  He is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Federal “Supermax” Prison, ADX-Florence, Colorado.

Sohail Daulatzai
Author of “Black Star, Crescent Moon” & Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies & African American Studies at the UC Irvine.

Noor Elashi
Writer, organic baker, activist & daughter of Holy Land Five political prisoner, Ghassan Elashi.

Andy Stepanian
Cofounder of The Sparrow Project.  Convicted as a terrorist in 2006 for his animal rights activism & served the last 6 months of a 36-month prison sentence in a Federal Communications Management Unit (CMU).

Alicia McWilliams
Activist & Aunt of Newburgh 4 defendant, David Williams.

Fahd Ahmed
Legal & Policy Director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), NYC.

Steve Downs
Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and lawyer in the ‘US vs. Yassin Aref’ case.

WHAT: Town Hall Discussion
WHEN: Thursday, April 18, 2013 |  6:30pm-8:30pm
WHERE: Riverside Church Assembly Hall | 490 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10027
INFO:  Facebook RSVP | andy@sparrowmedia.net

To arrange an interview with any of the speakers & presenters please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010

Daughter of Jailed Charity Leader, Activists & Attorneys Rally on Eve of Supreme Court Conference on Fate of Holy Land Foundation

Daughter of Jailed Charity Leader, Activists & Attorneys Rally on Eve of Supreme Court Conference on Fate of Holy Land Foundation

[New York, NY] At 5pm tomorrow (Thursday, October 25, 2012) activists, lawyers, and family members of defendants in the controversial Holy Land Five trial will hold a press conference and rally outside the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building (26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10013).

Noor Elashi, daughter to imprisoned Holy Land Foundation co-founder, Ghassan Elashi, and Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, will address the large assembly of activist supporters at 5:30pm in what may be the last public showing of solidarity for the Holy Land Five defendants before the Supreme Court is scheduled to conference on whether they will rule on the group’s 2008 conviction for alleged crimes under the Material Support to Terrorists statute.  The Supreme Court calendar indicates that should they conference on the Holy Land Five case it will likely happen on Friday, October 26, 2012.  This will be the last legal remedy for the defendants outside of a Presidential pardon.

The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was the largest Muslim charity in the United States until three months after 9/11 when the Bush administration shut it down following a claim that the group had donated a portion of their foundation funds to schools and hospitals in Gaza through a Zakat Committee that allegedly had connections to Hamas (designated by the US in 1995 as a terrorist group).  After subsequent raids on their homes and offices, arrests, and two trials (the first ending in a hung jury), the Holy Land Five was convicted of conspiracy under the Material Support to Terrorists statute and received sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in Federal Prison.

Edward Abington, a diplomat who served as U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem during the 1990s, when called to testify on behalf of the HLF defense in 2007, said Israel had provided “selective information to try to influence U.S. thinking.”  Also introduced into the court record by Abington was the little known fact that in the same year the HLF defendants were indicted the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had given $47,00 to the same Zakat Committee alleged in the indictment to have ties to Hamas (see DX1074 or pg.12 in writ). Moreover, USAID has periodically contributed to the same Zakat committees named in the indictments, from before the time of the HLF indictment until today.   This double standard is circuitous because it implies that either USAID is using taxpayer money to “finance Hamas” or that the allegations made against the HLF were baseless from the beginning.

After the 2007 deadlock, juror Nanette Scroggins, a retired claims adjuster, said in her only interview about the case, “I kept expecting the government to come up with something, and it never did… From what I saw, this was about Muslims raising money to support Muslims, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Noor Elashi, whose father Ghassan Elashi is now imprisoned, is speaking out, “I am heartened by the solidarity of those who are standing by my father during this critical time. I hope to see this momentum keep building until the Holy Land Five are exonerated.”

Ghassan Elashi is currently serving 65 years at the Federal Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Marion Illinois.  The CMU is a designer penal program that focuses specifically on isolating and silencing inmates.  The demographic of the CMU’s designees is made up of an overwhelming 79% Muslim majority with a smaller minority group of non-Muslim designees that have highly politicized cases.  This glaring racial disparity as well as the political nature of these prisons was the focus of a two-part investigation by National Public Radio titled “Guantanamo North.”  The Center for Constitutional Rights is currently suing the Department of Justice over the legality of CMU’s.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a 2009 report sharply criticized the government’s prosecution of the HLF, saying it “…violated the fundamental rights of American Muslim Charities and has chilled American Muslims’ charitable giving in accordance with their faith, seriously undermining American values of due process and commitment to First Amendment freedoms.”

Tomorrow’s rally and press conference is part of a national day of action in solidarity with the Holy Land Five.  The groups participating in tomorrow’s actions include:

• The Committee to Stop FBI Repression
• The Center for Constitutional Rights
• The Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild
• Free the Holy Land Five / Freedom to Give
• United National Anti-war Coalition
• Defending Dissent Foundation
• International Action Center
• National Lawyers Guild of Washington DC
• Students for a Democratic Society
• Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims)
• Labor for Palestine
• New York City Labor Against the War
• Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
• US Palestinian Community Network

A copy of the indictment against the HLF is available HERE
A copy of the HLF Petition of Cert is available HERE

For more information on the HLF visit http://freedomtogive.com
You can RSVP to tomorrow’s rally on facebook HERE

To request an interview with Noor Elashi, or for raw video footage of tomorrow’s events please contact Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010