The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.
According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:
• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.
Read More Here: The Intercept
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Read more here: The Intercept
On a miserable Monday evening in early April, when most people were scuttling for the nearest subway, a motley group was huddled before an unremarkable grey building in lower Manhattan, declaiming into the rain.
“[In 2006] we fought for Shifa’s safety, we fought for the Sadequee family’s safety, we fought for all of our safety,” said a woman standing in front of the crowd. “[Today] we must still come together across religious and spiritual traditions, across race and nations, across sexuality, across our beliefs, for our collective safety and livelihood.”
The woman was Cara Page, Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project and a prominent black queer activist; “Shifa” was Ehsanul “Shifa” Sadequee, a young man convicted of terrorism-related charges five years ago. The two had little obvious in common, but Page had been in Atlanta at the time of his trial and a member of the Free Shifa campaign, a coalition of supporters who argued that his prosecution and detention were unjust. It was proof, they said, that the inhumane detention of “War on Terror” suspects has occurred on American soil, too. Years later, most of the world had moved on from Sadequee’s story, but Page, like the others bundled around her, had not.
“We’re gonna build a nation / that don’t torture no one / but it’s gonna take courage / for that change to come,” chanted Luke Nephew, a Bronx-based spoken word poet who had trekked to lower Manhattan for the vigil. After singing a few rounds the rest of the crowd joined in. Friends and strangers locked eyes and nodded—a small moment of peaceful resistance in the face of an uphill struggle.
Read more: The Nation
The 12-person jury deliberated for only just as many hours, Reuters reported, before finding the 56-year-old former London imam guilty of all 11 counts he faced.
According to a New York Times report from 2012 shortly after he was extradited from the UK, the cleric told the court he wanted to be addressed by his birth name, Mostafa Kamel Mostafa.
The US had successfully sought his extradition for eight years after he was indicted in the US in 2004 for various terrorism related charges. Until then, Mostafa was serving time in Britain after being accused of inciting violence there, where he had gained notoriety for fiery sermons delivered as a at London’s Finsbury Park mosque. Combined with his indistinguishable appearance — Mostafa is missing one-eye and both hands—the cleric had no problem making waves on both sides of the pond.
Read More: Russia Today
Docs Confirm Lack of Due Process in Communications Management Units, Attorneys Say
For the first time, hundreds of documents detailing the Bureau of Prisons’ process for designating prisoners to controversial Communications Management Units (CMUs) are public. The documents had been under a protective order in the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, since CCR filed the case in 2010.
The CMUs were quietly opened in Terre Haute, IN and Marion, IL in 2006 and 2008, respectively, to monitor and control the communications of certain prisoners and to isolate them from other prisoners and the outside world. But the documents revealed today show that the BOP did not draft criteria for designating prisoners to the facilities until 2009 and that, even then, different offices within the BOP, each of which plays a role in the designation process, have a different understanding of the criteria. Other documents reveal that the reasons provided to CMU prisoners for their designation were incomplete, inaccurate, and sometimes even false. Discovery in the case also shows that prisoners were told they could earn their way out of the CMU by completing 18 months with clear conduct, but upon meeting that goal, their requests for transfer out of the CMU were repeatedly denied without explanation. Other documents show political speech was used as a factor in CMU designation. The documents made public today also show that 60 percent of CMU prisoners are Muslim, though Muslims comprise only six percent of the federal prisoner population.
Read More Here: Center for Constitutional Rights
Sally Eberhardt, a researcher with Educators for Civil Liberties, tells IPS these monthly vigils began in 2009 to highlight legal irregularities in the case against Fahad Hashmi, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen who was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport in 2005 and became the first citizen to be extradited to the U.S. under new laws passed after 9/11.
Hashmi spent three years in solitary confinement at the MCC before ever being charged with a crime. He accepted a government plea bargain of one-count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorist groups and, in 2010, began a 15-year sentence at the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.
Weekly vigils held in the autumn of 2009 through Hashmi’s sentencing gradually attracted civil liberties groups, including Amnesty International, the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations and the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), along with family members of other incarcerated Muslims, who have now coalesced into a movement known as the No Separate Justice (NSJ) campaign.
Read More Here: Inter Press Service News Agency