Friday, December 14, 2012

Egypt & the Arab Spring: Not Exactly a 1776 Moment

U.S. Constitutional Convention
If a picture paints a thousand words, then there can be no greater illustration to show the contrast between what took place in much of the Arab world two years ago and the birth of democracy in the United States than these two pictures .  The one is Howard Chandler Christy’s painting of the signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia.  The other is of tanks and barbed wire surrounding the presidential palace in Cairo following the passing of the constitutional referendum in Egypt.
Egyptian Presidential Palace

The one hangs in the Capitol building, the other was beamed across the world by the social media. What those images denote is the stark reality that is often overlooked by our current leaders.  Totalitarianism relies on the barrel of a gun and democracy on the power of the word, freedom.
What Egyptian President Morisi did  can be described in no other way.  He amassed power to himself under the guise of protecting the nation and pushing through a constitution that fit the radical Islamist agenda.  After massive demonstrations in Tahrir Square by non-Islamist Egyptians, he rescinded part of the order giving him supreme authority, yet the dye had already been cast as to how he would rule in the future.  On Monday he imposed martial law on the country and gave the military authority to arrest civilians who would oppose the passing of the constitutional referendum.  On Tuesday massive demonstrations were held by those opposed to the constitutional referendum vote scheduled for this Saturday.  President Morsi’s response was to brand those who demonstrated as enemies of the state, subversives and foreign conspirators, going so far as to use the state run TV station in getting his message out.  A technique that was described by Al Jazeera news as “borrowing a page out of (former) President Muburak’s playbook”.
What the outcome will be in Egypt remains to be seen, perhaps the will of the people will prevail and true democracy will take root.  And then again it may be that the radical Islamists who have hijacked the movement will force the will of Allah on all the people if not by the ballot then by the sword.

And lest we should think that this was an isolated incident in the Middle East or as some  have described events in that area as “a bump in the road” we need only to look at what is going on in  countries like Libya and Syria as to what the Arab Spring has produced.

In Libya we’ve had the Benghazi incident, led by a radical Islamic organization that resulted in the death of four Americans.  New reports now out on the situation there reveal that the US permitted Qatar to ship weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate leading the opposition in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.  The investigation into the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith, and former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods is being stalled because Libyan authorities fear taking on the radical Islamic militia in control of that section of the country.

In Syria we are finding out that the strongest, best trained Assad opposition leaders there are in fact members of the Nusra Front, an off shoot of Al Qaeda in Iraqi (AQI).

If and when Bashar al Assad is finally removed from power there is the possibility of another Afghanistan type country, fraught with sectarian violence and a Taliban like government that again forces the will of Allah on the people with the base of the sword.

The failure of Western diplomats, including the United States to understand what is taking place in the Middle East because of some giddy hope or naïveté  for all countries to be like ours is a sure road to failure in promoting democracy. The birth of democracy does indeed begin with a cry for freedom and it may need be paid for in some measure by the shedding of blood, but it must be guarded against  hijacking by pseudo democratic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Providing a Segue for Others


 Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri (أبو حمزة المصري, born 15 April 1958)  an infamous Muslim cleric in the United Kingdom, convicted in 2006 for racial hatred, terrorist and incitement to murder offences for his inflammatory sermons calling for death to non-Muslims, now in a United States jail.

The problem is global and ongoing in places like North Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and Russia.  It is not confined to one ideology, or religious dogma.  Non-Islamic terrorists in prison, members of domestic terrorists organizations with ties to leftist, communist organizations or race supremacy groups are always looking for ways to increase membership or their sphere of influence while incarcerated. Prison can produce strange bedfellows.  When you take terrorists whether they are Anarchists, Islamists, Maoists, or Naxals, and put them in prison with alienated, disenfranchised common criminals with a propensity for violence, radicalization will occur and as a result what comes out of prison may be much worse then what went in.
A recruiter will seek out the most vulnerable in the prison population, those alienated individuals who were seeking acceptance and looking for meaning in their life.  He will often manipulated their feelings of animosity toward authority and steered them to hate the enemy, be it the infidels, the non-Islamists, or members of a specific race or ethnicity.  
Often what unites a violent extremist organization is not only a common goal, but a common enemy.  
The problem of prison radicalization will continue to perplex Counter Terrorism and Correctional experts until a consensus is built as to how best to address it.  Whether this is achieved by de-radicalization programs,  counter radicalization programs, or rehabilitation programs is open for debate.  Disagreement is not to be feared.  Inaction or complacency in this arena may be our greatest threat.           READ MORE...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rutgers University Reviews The Fertile Soil of Jihad

Patrick T. Dunleavy, in The fertile soil of Jihad: Terrorism's prison connection, examines the terrorism recruitment process inside the United States prison system. Though it is presumed that prisons isolate convicts from the public, in the ever-expanding global world, “convicts today are not isolated from society” (p.100). Operation Hades, the focus of the book, exposed the ease with which Abdel Nasser Zaben was able to recruit and convert prisoners, all the while maintaining contact with the outside world.

Dunleavy describes in detail how Zaben’s background contributed to his radicalization, especially once he entered the prison system. Zaben’s ever widening net is uncovered over the course of the book. Throughout this process, Dunleavy exposes points where the United States government had the opportunity to intervene. These repeatedly missed opportunities allowed Zaben to gain more power in the prison system while adding more recruits.

How then does the United States identify the next Zaben? Dunleavy highlights a number of issues with the prison system as exemplified by the New York experience. First, many of the imams in New York State correctional facilities had radical views. In fact, Warith Deen Umar, who was in charge of approving Muslim chaplains, hired clergy who espoused radical views. Second, Dunleavy highlights the ability of religious clergy to use the components of the religious system to further illegal actions. For instance, the monetary system was used to funnel money to terrorist organizations. Third, individuals used apprentice roles in the prison chaplain’s office to mask their radicalization while using resources in these offices to further terrorism. Fourth, prisoners were able to use the visitor system, especially female visitors. Zaben’s wife, to whom he was introduced by another inmate, did what Zaben himself could not do from prison. These are just some of the factors associated with that prison subculture that seemed to advance terrorism.

While Dunleavy provides a lot of depth regarding the radicalization process in prisons since 1993, the reader is left with more questions than answers at the end. What can we change about the prison system to limit radicalization? For instance, if alone the “New York State Inmate Commissary Account System handles more than $25 million per year (p. 33), how does one keep track of all the monetary transactions in prisons to limit terrorism funding across the country? While agencies are striving to work together, especially with Operation Hades, can law enforcement officials realistically achieve this goal?

Dunleavy provides an excellent portrayal of the radicalization process in the United States prison system. Now it seems incumbent on practitioners to begin making changes to combat this process. Having identified the factors that allowed Zaben to use the prison system to further terrorism, the author has given that system some specific deficiencies that need to be addressed in order to limit the radicalization process in prison. Nevertheless, Dunleavy cautions that jihad is global in nature. Even though law enforcement officials target prison radicalization, radical individuals will continue to find ways to further their goals. This book opens up discussion on the existence of prison radicalization as well as the current level of threat. It should provide a springboard to discussing working policy initiatives so as to target prison radicalization.

Brittany E. Hayes, Doctoral Student, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
 Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books is a joint project of Rutgers School of Law-Newark and Rutgers School of Criminal Justice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Terrorists in Jail Demand Their "Rights"

On Sept. 11, the nation remembers that fateful day in 2001 when the earth shook, the buildings fell and the innocent were slain. On that day, we vowed as a nation to bring to justice, or bring justice to, those who committed the acts of terrorism. We did.
Leaders of the radical Islamic organization al Qaeda were either captured or killed. Osama bin Laden was taken out by a team of special operations forces while hiding in Pakistan. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, has been captured and is being held in Guantanamo.

With the influx of additional terrorists captured, there arose a debate regarding whether terrorists should be tried in the courts or by a military tribunal. The controversy was never settled one way or the other.
Mohammed is awaiting a military trial along with several other co-conspirators. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” was given his Miranda rights, and charges against him were filed in federal court. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in February. Numerous lesser-knowns were tried in the U.S. courts and sentenced to long terms of incarceration with special administrative measures imposed on their conditions of confinement.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Once jailed, the jihadist does not surrender - he just takes a different path.

Case in point: John Walker Lindh, "the American Taliban" captured in November 2001 in Afghanistan fighting along side al Qaeda and Taliban members against U.S. military forces.
Among the charges filed against him were conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and providing material support to terrorist organizations. He entered in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney General's Office and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
This year he joined with several other Islamic terrorists in filing suit against the Bureau of Prisons for violation of his rights. He states that he and the other terrorists have the right to
get together five times a day to "pray" in accordance with his religious beliefs.  
These would be the same beliefs that led 19 hijackers to kill almost 3,000 innocent Americans in one day.

He contends that allowing them to meet frequently for religious purposes does not pose a security threat. Hopefully the prison administrators will remind the Judge of the case of convicted Islamic terrorist El Sayyid Nosair.  Nosair, while an inmate in Attica State prison in 1992, regularly met in the prison mosque with other muslim inmates for religious purposes  It was there he convinced two of them to assist him in making phone calls to the Blind Sheik, Omar Adbel Rahman and several others as they conspired to bomb the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. The subsequent investigation revealed that Nosair utilized prison phones, visits, and religious privileges to commit a terrorist act while incarcerated.

Lindh is not the first, nor will he be the last to use the courts to challenge his prison time. The al Qaeda terrorist responsible for the bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania in 1998 has also asked a judge to loosen his prison conditions.  Khalfan Khamis Mohamed was convicted along with Mahmoud Salim for the attack in Dar es Salaam that killed eleven and wounded eighty five.
If that were not enough, while both were being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, Khalfan and Mahmoud brutally assaulted Correction Officer Louis Pepe, stabbing him in the eye with a jailhouse shank, and then pouring a searing hot liquid in the wound. The resulting injury  caused a permanent disability to Officer Pepe.
In filing his lawsuit, Khalfan claims he is rehabilitated and no longer a security threat to the prison or correctional staff. He wants to be able to mingle with the general population, receive visits from friends and family, and call whomever he wants on the phone. After all, he has rights, doesn't he?

What have we, as a free society, learned from this regarding effectively dealing with terrorism?

Well, if you incarcerate a terrorist, you grant him access to the courts. If you grant a terrorist access to the courts, you give him rights, and a terrorist will use those rights to continue to advance the jihadist goal. The war does not end for them when they are captured. 

Those terrorists who have been in prison are starting to become "jail wise" in using the legal system to advance their cause. They also find a sympathetic ear and support from groups like the ACLU or the Human Rights Commission.
And in touting their "rights" they make a mockery of justice and insult the memory of the fallen.
Hopefully, the judges who hear these cases will heed the counsel of prison security administrators and not be swayed by the crocodile tears of the incarcerated terrorists.
(Washington Times, September 10, 2011)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Counter Terrorism Strategist Comments on Author's Book

Dr Rupali Jeswal
The reviewer is an Intelligence and Terrorism Analyst, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Hypnotherapist based in South-East Asia. She has also received training in specialsed areas including counter-terrorism, intelligence and tactical operations. She specialises in cognitive learning processes and neural pathway response and how these factors apply to specialised trainings.
She is an expert in the field of non-verbal micro and macro expression for deception and detection and also using non-verbal assets for psychological self-assessment in conjunction with Emotional Intelligence to enhance the human mind, personality, image and spirit.
She is a member of ICPA (International Corrections & Prisons Association), IACSP (International Association for Counter-Terrorism and Security Professionals) and a member of APA (American Psychological Association), APP (Association of Professional Psychologists), UK Certified Hypnotherapist and General Hypnotherapy Register.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Global Problem

"If the devil leaders of New York think placing me in [prison] will end the war, they are wrong;; this is only the beginning.”

These words were spoken by El Sayyid Nosair following the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.  Nosair would later be convicted of the crime in United States Federal Court and sentenced to life in prison along with his co-defendants and their spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel- Rahman.
Now the newly elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi
has vowed to have Rahman released from prison.
What can we make of this?  Are terrorists rendered inoperative when incarcerated?  Do the events in one country's war on terrorism have an impact on other nations?  read more...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Looking Beyond the Trial in Guantanamo

What Should Be Done With the 9-11 Plotters ?

After a prolonged delay and much political debate, legal proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Hawsawi , the defendants accused of plotting the 9-11 attacks on the United States, began last week before a military tribunal held at Guantanamo.
Initial reports of the day's proceedings lead us to expect an even longer trial than that of Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker in the 9-11 attacks, whose  case took almost five years to complete.
The day was filled with antics by the defendants and procedural posturing by the defense attorneys.  A simple 15 minute process took about twelve hours to complete.
The defendants refused to speak or even use the electronic translation headphones provided, then they requested to pray.  Meanwhile, one of them was placed in a restraint chair for disrupting the tribunal. 
One of the defense attorneys, Cheryl Bormann, wearing a hijab and long black robe, requested that the judge order the women in the court to dress modestly out of respect for the defendants' religious beliefs.  One forgets that it is those very beliefs that led these defendants to conspire to kill thousands of innocent Americans on one September day, in the name of Allah.
We were provided with a brief description of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind behind the plot.  He was described as having a long flowing grey beard with red streaks in it.  This is traditional for conservative Islamic fundamentalist men who are forbidden by the Sunnah to dye their hair in its natural color but are allowed to use a henna extract following the custom of what many believe the prophet Muhammed did.
One might ask where he got the henna?  Or is it now the policy of the current administration to allow inmates to dye their hair?  When last I checked, any inmate found with hair coloring was in possession of contraband.  Changing one's appearance in prison is often a prelude to an escape attempt and is considered a serious breach of security.
Surely antics like these, and much more animated ones, are in store for the future. The defendants have been provided a platform to preach their virulent form of Islamism and inspire their followers to the path of jihad while shouting contempt for Western civilization.
But after the hearing and the verdict rendered, what then?  Only one of two sentences can be administered: execution or life in prison.  If the latter, then we must determine now where that will be.  Not too long ago, the current Administration pledged to close
Guantanamo and assimilate those held there into the US prison system.  And more recently, the current Attorney General sought to have the trial of these defendants held in New York City.  If not for the Congressional action taken to thwart that move, lower Manhattan would now be in a high security lockdown. 
If we do take the individuals into the Bureau of Prisons and place them in the SuperMax facility in Florence, Colorado, we will have created a conundrum far surpassing any ever seen by prison administrators, even with the most stringent Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) placed on the defendants.
In prison, time often works to the great advantage of the convict.  Mainstream society often forgets the most heinous of criminals once they are locked away.  But the terrorist never forgets, and knows how to manipulate the system. 
A recent example of this was in the case of Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, convicted in 2001 for the bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania.  Mohamed has been given access to the federal courts to challenge his conditions of confinement.  These SAMs were placed on him immediately after his conviction. 
Now, ten years later, he is telling the judge that he has changed, been rehabilitated, and it is no longer necessary to control whom he talks to on the phone, or who visits him, or whom he can write to.  In fact he wants to be placed in the general population so that he can attend services in the prison mosque.  Sounds absurd ?  What if the motion is granted?  Not today maybe, but five years from now, who will remember?  The families of the innocent victims - they will never forget and neither should we
So what is the purpose of the trial and what should be the outcome?  It is the high and noble cause that justice prevail and the rule of law be witnessed by the world, including those who would seek to destroy the United States.  Let us not stray from that and let the penalty fit the crime.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Myth of Self Radicalization

When seven people are killed including 3 children, who is responsible? When a van carrying Hasidic students is attacked by automatic weapon fire, killing one and wounding several others, who is held accountable?  It would seem according to some reports that the victims fell prey to the "lone terrorist" or "self-radicalized" individual.  Is this an accurate description of what took place?                                            Recent studies and statements by several government officials, including the director of the FBI and the secretary of Homeland Security, tell us that the greatest threat facing us post 9-11 is the individual terrorist. But in looking at two specific cases of Islamic terrorist attacks we may find that definition an over-simplified version of what actually took place.                                                                                                                 The first is the case of Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old French / Algerian in Toulouse, France who shot three French paratroopers and four Jewish civilians, three of whom were young children.                 The profile coming out initially said he was self-radicalized because of the economic poverty he grew up in. A victim of high unemployment and discrimination against an immigrant minority caused the anger     that fueled the fire in him. If that is true, where did the $26,000 found on him come from? Not to mention the cache of weapons and the expenditures necessary for him to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan? Who provided the funds, the contacts, and the weapons?                                                                          

The second description said he "self-radicalized in prison." Is that possible? Is prison a place where you can be left to yourself to evolve into something?                                                                                         
As someone who has worked in the criminal justice system for 26 years and a considerable amount of that time in the prison system, I can tell you emphatically that Merah's radicalization was much more than self-induced. One does not become "self-radicalized" in prison. The constant interaction that occurs within a prison negates that. There is always a facilitator, an influence, or a catalyst. Be that literature, another cellmate, or a clergy. What was the integer in this case?                                                              French authorities had known for some time that mixing convicted Islamic terrorists with low-level criminals in the prison's general population contributed to radicalization.  Important questions need to be answered.  Who were his cellmates?       Who visited him?          What literature did he have access to?                                     

The second case is that of Rashid Baz, the Lebanese/Palestinian immigrant known as "the Brooklyn Bridge Shooter" responsible for the death of Hasidic student Ari Halberstam in 1994. The case was initially thought to be "road rage." It wasn't until 1999 when US Attorney Mary Jo White opened an investigation into the crime and found it was indeed a terrorist act that it was reclassified.
Yet, despite the evidence, it was declared that Baz acted alone. The final report stated, "Baz acted on his own ... and there appear to be no unpunished co-conspirators." He was by definition a "lone wolf" terrorist. And since then he has been free to move about the general population of the prison influencing other inmates and even working as the chaplain's clerk in the prison mosque.
Looking back at the evidence, the answer is disturbing. Two relatives helped him hide the weapons he used in their house. When the guns and ammunition were found, they said that they knew nothing of his involvement in the crime nor did they share his radical hatred for Jewish people.
Now, from his prison cell in Attica 18 years later, Baz admitted that he had intentionally targeted Jews on that fateful day in March. Why? Was no one else involved?                                                                       

Phone records obtained by police show just the opposite. The family members were in contact with a member of an Islamic terrorist organization, Hamas.
Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel by any means including killing Jewish civilians.
In addition, at least two witnesses testified that, just prior to going on a rampage, Baz attended a service at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. There, he heard a fiery sermon preached calling for revenge on Jews for an incident that had recently occurred in Hebron. That was Feb. 25, on the eve of the first anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 by radical Islamic fundamentalists.
One of the witnesses testified that Baz was enraged after the speech, determined to act. Was this the catalyst that sent him over the edge?
To this day, neither the imam nor the mosque president has been held accountable for that. Why?
Yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater is not freedom of speech, nor is promoting a message, either spoken, written, or on the internet, that instructs someone to kill others in the name of God.
A terrorist is not hatched overnight, nor are they produced solely in the dark vacuum of self.
Even the National Counter Terrorism Center acknowledges this in its definition of radicalism. "Radicalism is a dynamic and multi-layered process involving several factors that interact with one another to influence an individual," it says.
Instilling grievances, preaching and religious dogma all play a role.
When we say that a person was self-taught or self-motivated, we look at them in a positive light.
When used in recent descriptions of Islamic terrorists it has quite the opposite effect.
It tends to triteness and absolves anyone else of complicity in the act. There is an overuse of the word, a diluting of the meaning, a deliberate misuse in an attempt to simplify the issue of radicalization.
Those who contributed to the radicalization process must be held accountable.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Path To Paradise - Mohammed Merah

From Crime to Prison to Jihad

French Killings Show the Path from Crime to Prison to Jihad

Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old self-proclaimed member of al-Qaida who was killed after a 30 hour standoff with an elite police tactical unit in Toulouse France was a prime example of a homegrown terrorist. Prior to his violent ending, Merah had admitted to killing at least seven individuals including three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school, as well as three members of the French armed forces. His motive he said was vengeance in the name of Allah.
Just how does a young man, a son of Algerian immigrants, become so full of rage and anger that he thinks killing innocent people pleases God. He was not always like that.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mosques of New Jersey - A Case of Short Memory Syndrome

Should NYPD wait until the terrorists bent on attacking New York City cross over the George Washington Bridge before they start to investigate or gather intelligence?
Add caption

In the latest outcry against the NYPD’s successful Counter Terrorism strategies, caused in part by an article from the Associated Press’s Washington-based Investigative team,Islamic and civil libertarian groups such as the ACLU and CAIR are once again calling for the resignation of Commissioner Ray Kelly and a federal investigation of the police department for alleged spying on the Muslim community in the Greater New York area.
 At the center of the accusations is the release of an NYPD document that details in part intelligence gathering on Mosques in the state of New Jersey. Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker voiced outrage telling the press that the city was never notified of the NYPD conducting a surveillance operation in their city. However the evidence shows that the NYPD did notify New Jersey law enforcement officials.
Questions on the issue of jurisdiction were also raised asking, “What gives NYPD the right to go outside the city limits to conduct investigations?”

At first glance the average reader might think that this is a clear case of government abuse of power and of law enforcement collecting information on innocent citizens in violation of constitutional rights. Those that do so suffer from a case of short memory syndrome. Looking back over the history of Islamic terrorist activity in New York prior to 9/11 is a sure cure for the malady.
In 1990 a little known Egyptian immigrant committed a homicide in Manhattan. What was once looked at as just a single act of violence by a lone individual in a crime ridden city has now come to be known as the vanguard attack of the jihadists on the United States. The victim of the killing was Rabbi Meir Khane, an outspoken Jewish activist, and founder of the Jewish Defense League, with a reputation for making inflammatory speeches. The shooter was El Sayyid Nosair. The investigation into the murder revealed that Nosair was a member of Al Gama’a al Islamiyya, an Islamic terrorist organization who’s spiritual leader was Omar Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheik. Nosair prior to the shooting had participated in raising money for an organization known as Maktab al Khadamat. That organization was founded by Abdullah Azzam and Osma bin Laden in Pakistan as a means of providing financial support for the mujahadeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980’s.
The headquarters for the organization in the United States was run out of a mosque, Al Farouq, in Brooklyn. But funds were also supplied from several mosques in New Jersey which both Nosair and the Blind Sheik had visited and maintained ties with.
In February of 1993 a truck loaded with explosives was detonated in the World Trade Center by radical islamists. The jihad had now moved from a single killing to an attack on innocent civilians and a landmark structure in the United States.
In the investigation that followed conducted by Federal, State, and City law enforcement, names, locations, and the activities of the conspirators were outlined in the successful prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office. Once again El Sayyid Nosair was involved in the jihad. From his cell in Attica state prison he was able to contact individuals in New Jersey and who were constructing the truck bomb. Among the other perpetrators led by Ramzi Yousef, were individuals such as Ibrahim al Gabrowny, Nosair’s cousin, and Mohammed Salameh. Both lived and attended mosques in New Jersey.
The connection between the mosques in the New York city area and Jersey mosques
was provided by non other than Sirhaj Wahhaj, who, in addition to his duties as the leader of a New York City mosque, was the first Islamic clergy to offer an invocation (opening prayer) before the US House of Representatives. Wahhaj was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case who was called to testify during the first World Trade Center trial. In his testimony he talked of an incident at the El Salaam Mosque in New Jersey involving Sheik Abdel Rahman and his followers.
Wahhaj stated that several months prior to the bombing there was an incident in the El Salaam Mosque Jersey City. At that time he, Wahhaj, had just left another Islamic Center in New Jersey, when he “just happened to drive by” the mosque where several of the individuals convicted in the first World Trade Center Bombing were attending. Wahhaj admitted that he knew Sheik Abdel Rahman as well as the others in the Jersey mosque. The same violent rhetoric calling for jihad was preached in every mosque the Blind Sheik and his followers went to in the United States, including the ones in New Jersey.
Court records clearly revealed that the terrorists who planned the attack in New York City lived and were attending mosques in New Jersey. Inmate visitor and phone records of El Sayyid Nosair clearly showed communication with individuals from New Jersey who were attending mosques in New Jersey. If that wasn’t enough, the very truck that was loaded with explosives was rented in New Jersey.
SO the question is, should NYPD wait until the terrorists bent on attacking the city cross over the George Washington Bridge before they start to investigate or gather intelligence?
That would be ridiculous. The philosophy that drives Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD to station Detectives overseas to glean real time live information of terrorist attacks or to follow any lead anywhere in protecting the city is rock solid and founded not on abusing civil liberties, but protecting them.
Investigative journalism is necessary for a strong vibrant free press. But a lopsided story that fails to look at the history of radical terrorists in New Jersey’s Islamic Centers is myopic and does not give an accurate view of the facts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Saga of the 60s Radicals - Attempting to Rewrite History

 Time can often erase the memory of the past and in the case of convicted domestic terrorists of the 60’s seek to re-write it entirely.
The latest case in point is that of Judith Clark a member of the Weather Underground currently serving 75 years to life in prison for the shooting deaths of police officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown, and also armored car guard Peter Page during the botched Brinks Robbery in Nyack, NY in 1981.
In a recent New York Times Magazine article by reporter Tom Robbins readers are told the story of the transformation of a terrorist who’s only mistake was to drive a getaway car during the robbery attempt. We are then led through a myriad of accomplishments that Ms. Clark has achieved while in that dreaded belly of the beast, prison. She has obtained college degrees, mentored and counseled other inmates, and become a model of the rehabilitative process. Her greatest regret is the separation from her daughter, although she does see her during visits and talk to her on the prison phone regularly. According to her version of the events that led to her arrest we are asked to believe that her complicity was inadvertent and singular to this one crime. In her website, where readers are urged to write to the governor on her behalf, she states the following regarding her actions, “She was sitting in a get-away car. She was neither a shooter nor a robber.” 
Talk about minimizing involvement, that is outrageous.
What is missing from the story can be found both in the record of the past and also in the present. 
Clark was an avowed member of a domestic terrorist organization. 

The Weather Underground or Weathermen as they liked to be called, along with members of the Black Liberation Army, were responsible for no less than forty bombings of government buildings, military bases, police stations, and corporate headquarters. As many as 10 police officers, including NYPD Officers Waverly Jones, Joseph Piagentini, Rocco Laurie, and Gregory Foster were gunned down by members of the movement.
In addition innocent civilians were killed or injured, contrary to former members Bill Ayers’ assertion,              “We killed no one and hurt no one”

The Times article attempts to make the point that only Clark remains in prison of all the other women arrested and convicted for the acts of violence committed by the domestic terrorists of the 60’s. Somehow, no mention is made of Joanne Chesimard also known as Assata Shakur, convicted in the shooting death of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. Chesimard escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba where she was granted asylum by Fidel Castro. She remains on the FBI’s most wanted list. Members of the Weathermen and the BLA currently in New York prison remain in contact with Chesimard through several intermediaries who both visit the prisons and travel to Cuba to talk with Chesimard.
The members of these radical domestic terrorist groups remain involved even to this day with other terrorist organizations. In June of 2011 I testified before the House Committee for Homeland Security.
 In my written testimony I stated:
In 1999, two years prior to 9/11, several law enforcement agencies received information regarding radical Islamist activity in the prison system. The first of these incidents occurred in February 1999.
At that time, both the FBI and the Inspector General’s Office for the New York State Department of Correctional Services received information specifically detailing recruitment efforts within prison.
The information, from confidential informants, named individuals associated with the 1993 plot to destroy New York City landmarks and the first attack on the World Trade Center, along with several members of a domestic terrorist organization already serving time for the Brinks robbery. The intelligence also implicated a Pakistani national and a Yemeni who were in prison for murder. The informant went on to say that this group had formed an alliance with a singular goal. He called the group the “Talem Circle” and stated that; “The Talem Circle was tasked with training incarcerated members to work with Middle Eastern Muslims to perform acts of Jihad.”

Contrary to popular belief, convicted terrorists do not lie dormant in a jail cell. Even today members of the Weather Underground have been actively involved with groups like Viva Palestina and HAMAS regarding the current situation in the Middle East.
So what happens when an individual, such as Ms. Clark or co-defendant David Gilbert goes into prison? A first timer like Clark learns from the old timers how to become “jail wise” That is to act and talk as one who is ready for release. Use your time to convince others, like the Parole Board or the Governor’s Executive Clemency Bureau, that you are indeed a different person and that you no longer present a threat to society.

If you do this, they’re told, you get a pass on the heinous acts you committed. As time goes by they become less and less serious. Who actually accurately remembers the radicals of the 60’s ? The family of the victims do. And every time another story is written about how good the murderer has become, the wound is re-visited and the pain returns.
The official goal of prisons is confinement or removal from society. The desired goal is rehabilitation. The reality is neither. Often what comes out of prison is much worse than what went in. As in the case of Lamont Pride accused in the shooting death of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski in December. Pride had previously spent time in a North Carolina prison for Robbery. Thirty years from now will we forget Officer Figoski untimely death? I hope not. Those who do forget dishonor those who have fallen.
Cop killers should not be set free and Judith Clark is no exception, not withstanding the hundreds of letters from well intentioned individuals on her behalf.
The sentence fits the crime. Release should not be an option.