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Fahad Hashmi’s Trial Starts This Week: Pre-trial Torture Continues

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If anyone is planning to attend the trial and can provide us with updates, please contact us at info at muslimmatters dot org or leave a comment indicating so; your presence and blogging of the trial can be a source of information  for thousands of Muslims who are thinking of Fahad.

One of the forgotten victims of Bush’s “war on terror” continues to linger around in conditions reserved for animals or the worst of criminals. We talked about his case several months ago.

It could be said that Fahad Hashmi may have even fared better in Guantanamo, a setback for a country that is trying to change its image in the Muslim world. Consider what he is going through, probably no better than what an actual hijacker from 9/11, if caught alive, may have had to go through:

  • He is held under 24-hour surveillance, which means that he is forced to use the bathroom, take a shower, or do anything that demands basic privacy, while being taped or watched by strangers.
  • He has not seen the light of the day for years. Can you imagine what that does to you mind, to your body, not being exposed to the blessing and need for sunlight?
  • He eats every meal alone, every day. Those of us who are alone at home, without families, can attest to how difficult it becomes eating alone, day after day.
  • He cannot communicate or see anyone else. Human beings are social animals, take away the social element, and it can start eating you from inside.
  • He cannot participate in group prayer, communicate with other prisoners or the news media, or listen to or watch any news programs.
  • He can write only one letter to one family member a week, using no more than three sheets of paper.
  • He may be visited by one family member every two weeks and those visits may not exceed 90 minutes or involve physical contact. No hugs, no embraces. 90 minutes in 2 weeks (20,160 minutes), which equates to 99.5% of alone time.
  • He gets newspapers that are 30 days old with sections cut out by the government!
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As Bill Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, writes in Huffington Post:

Children are taught that the U.S. Constitution protects people accused of crimes. No one is to be punished unless their guilt or innocence has been decided in a fair trial. Until trial, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They are entitled to be defended by an attorney of their choice. And the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Forget children. Muslim Americans, along with Obama’s administration is taking great pains to tell skeptical Muslims around the globe that the rights that America guarantees to its citizens are unparalleled in the world. Why are those same rights taken away from an American Muslim?

Bill Quigley is a reminder for everyone that upright Americans exist; rather the majority of Americans are fair-minded (though this number is dwindling as the disease of Islamophobia spreads). WHEN they are presented with the facts, their sense of justice overtakes any sense of prejudice. For instance, a petition signed by hundreds of academics, including Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University, called Mr Hashmi’s detention “draconian”.

Unfortunately the media has white-washed these crimes of the government, not dissimilar to their coverage of “collateral” damage in Muslim countries. That is why it is essential for alternative media outlets, such as the blogosphere, to disseminate the truth about such grave matters. Vigils have been held for Fahad, organized by a group led by his brother (on the net: freefahad.com).

The inherent fabric of this nation’s criminal justice system “innocence until guilt is proven,” has been a dream that Fahad has not yet seen. If the condition of his imprisonment is not the worst sort of cruel and unusual punishment (even before being convicted of anything), then what is?

If the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, what is the impact of forced isolation? Medical testimony presented in his case in federal court concluded that after 60 days in solitary people’s mental state begins to break down. That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity. Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety and acute confusion. Essentially, the mind disintegrates. [Quigley]

All Americans must recognize that the issue is not whether Fahad is guilty or not. Even though the system is significantly rigged against a Muslim getting a fair trial in America (let alone in New York as evidenced by the farce of a trial that convicted Dr. Aafia), AT THE VERY LEAST, let the trial happen FIRST before beginning the systematic punishment (which has been ongoing for years in Fahad’s case)!

As Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, who taught Fahad, and is part of his support group said,

Whether he’s innocent or not is not the main issue. We’re supposed to have a system of rights and due process and the fact is we’re standing here in New York, not in Afghanistan or Cuba, and he’s a US citizen. All Americans need to be concerned about this and not say it’s got nothing to do with me. If it happens to one person, it can happen to anyone.

CAIR has finally done the right thing and joined the effort that seeks justice for Fahad. A joint open letter has been issued by CAIR and other human-rights organizations. The letter reads in part:

We are concerned that Mr. Hashmi has not been informed of the reasons for the imposition of SAMs. We are also concerned that Mr. Hashmi is being held under conditions that are not consistent with international standards for humane treatment. Due to their likely impact on his mental health, we are further concerned that these conditions will prejudice his ability to assist in his own defense.

The Department of Justice stated last year that 46 inmates around the country were being confined pursuant to SAMs. Although we recognize that the department has a legitimate interest in protecting classified information that may harm national security and in protecting the public against acts of terrorism, we are very concerned that inmates held pursuant to such measures are not being given an adequate opportunity to defend against the imposition of SAMs in their cases.

We urge the Attorney General to review and revise the agency’s regulations governing the imposition of SAMs to ensure that all prisoners regardless of their security status are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.

To view the letter in full click: http://cair-ny.org.s3.amazonaws.com/files/Final%20Open%20Letter.pdf

What can you do?

  • Make sincere dua for Fahad to receive a fair trial, and to relieve him of his pre-trial torture.
  • Spread the word. Tell your neighbors, friends and family members about this case.
  • You can write a letter to the editor, even of your local newspaper. Plenty of talking points in the CAIR letter and the Quigley article. Get the word out!
  • You can write a letter to the Department of Justice, focusing on the civil rights aspect of this case. *If anyone can figure out the appropriate specific department and contact, please post in comments*
  • Make a donation to the Muslim Justice Initiative, which is the umbrella group covering a variety of such cases.
  • Make sure you attend the trial if you are in the area, or can make it out there.

Trial for Syed “Fahad” Hashmi

April 28th, 2010
Time: 8:45am

500 Pearl St.
Manhattan, NY 10007
[In front of Judge Loretta Preska]

Image Courtesy “Next Left Notes

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Ify Okoye

    April 25, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    My Allah azza wa jal make his affairs easy for him. Innocent until proven guilty, what a sham in this case.

  2. Yasir Qadhi

    April 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    May Allah allow him to be with his family and friends soon, and free him of his shackles and chains, and give him patience in this time of hardship, and bless him with good for all that he has suffered. Ameen!

    Yasir

    • abu Rumay-s.a.

      April 25, 2010 at 10:00 AM

      Ameen Ya Rabal Alameen…

    • miss

      April 25, 2010 at 7:05 PM

      Ameen

  3. Umm Bilqis

    April 25, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Ameen!

  4. Amad

    April 25, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    I wonder sometimes, are the security guards really so inept and afraid that they think this guy will escape if he is in a regular prison? Or is this deliberate torture and mental anguish?

    While they’ll insist that this is for security measures, it is obvious that there is a more sinister agenda at place. It does seem that the security apparatus has been wholly infiltrated by the neocons at several levels, and it will continue to raise its ugly head in different areas.

  5. elham

    April 25, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    La hawl wala quwata illa billah, May Allah release him soon safe and sound and give his family comfort, ameen.

    They are definitely trying to turn his defense weak by this mental torture,may Allah give them what they deserve of their share.Inshallah he will come out of this trial with ease, ameen ya rab.

  6. Anas Hlayhel

    April 25, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    Prosecutor Seeks Anonymous Jury in New York “Terror” Trial

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51157

    • amad

      April 26, 2010 at 1:59 AM

      The prosecutors will get whatever they want from this judge. She doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation in dealing with Muslim defendants… she was also on Bush’s short-list for Supreme Court! Tells you something about her views.

      In a previous trial, she sentenced a guy to 15-years for attending a camp in Pakistan, meant for Kashmir (not for actually threatening America)… that’s the max she could, but she lamented the fact she couldn’t do 30:

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/07/25/national/main3097007.shtml

      Another doctor was sentenced to 25 years for taking “bayah” to Qaeda allegedly. Seemed like another classic case of entrapment, but consider the penalty for the “thought crime

      He said a co-defendant, jazz musician and martial arts expert Tarik Shah, had duped him into taking an oath with an FBI agent who posed as an al-Qaida recruiter, never explaining that he was pledging loyalty to al-Qaida or its leader, Osama bin Laden

      So it wasn’t a surprise when this judge thought it was perfectly appropriate to keep Fahad caged like an animal, a decision she made more than a year ago.

  7. Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    April 25, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    It’s shocking and frightening that a young, innocent (until proven guilty supposedly) Muslim is being treated like this. And for what? Because he let an acquaintance spend the night who had allegedly bought ponchos and waterproof socks for militants in Pakistan. Incredible. All sense of perspective has been lost. All sense of justice and fairness has been flushed down the tubes.

  8. brian

    April 27, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    Please see the following link. We will be providing updates and analysis from the trial…

    http://justice4fahad.org/

  9. Free Fahad

    April 27, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    The Legal Black Hole in Lower ManhattanThe unfairness of the trial of Muslim activist Syed Fahad Hashmi.
    By Jeanne TheoharisPosted Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at 11:05 AM ET

    On Wednesday, an American citizen goes to trial, without the right to review all the evidence in his case and after three years of isolation. This is happening not in Guantanamo or even a military brig but in the Southern District of New York. Syed Fahad Hashmi, held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, is charged with two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. If convicted, he faces 70 years in prison. His case represents the vast, baffling scope of this sort of criminal charge and the abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism right here at home.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2252117/

  10. Yasir Qadhi

    April 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Subhan Allah… see below.

    He pled guilty to one count of material support; the trial is canceled and the sentencing will be on June 7th, 2010.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20100427/pl_usnw/DC94680_1

  11. Ammar AlShukry

    April 27, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    **Important Update***

    Fahad Hashmi pleaded guilty today to one count of material support. There will be no trial, instead a sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 7th.
    Thank you,

    Muslim Justice Initiative
    Muslimsforjustice.org

  12. Ryan Mahoney

    April 27, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    This is so strange. Does anyone have any insight into why he plead guilty? Is there evidence of coercion? Did he believe that he could not possibly get a fair trial and would have subsequently been found guilty of the trumped up charges against him? My wife and I are just stunned.

    • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

      April 28, 2010 at 4:37 PM

      Ryan Mahoney,

      Evidence of coercion…hmm you mean other than the three years of torture? The law was written in such a way that they can convict anyone, let alone under these conditions — secret evidence, jury fear mongering, etc.

      I don’t know what kind of emotional or mental state the brother is in after this treatment, but I can tell you for sure as an attorney that his attorney would have been begging him to plead guilty and telling him that he would lose for sure and be in prison the rest of his life if he did not plead guilty and this was his only chance of ever possibly being free again or perhaps even of getting out of solitary confinement.

      Allaahul-Musta’an…this “justice” system in this country is darkness and oppression on a massive scale (Thulum) May Allaah (swt) aid, assist, and reward the innocent and punish the Thalimeen.

      • Amad

        April 29, 2010 at 1:05 AM

        I agree…

        When the system is so massively rigged against you, and you see what happened with Dr. Aafia, you have to take the least you can escape with. 15 years sounds a heck lot better than 70.

        If you look at probabilities and expected value theory, even if you assume that your chance of getting 0 years is 50% and your chance of getting 70 is balance 50%, then your overall expected value for going into trial is (0 * 50% + 70 * 50%=) 35 years. Compare that against a 15 year expected return for pleading guilty, you have your answer. Fahad had to have a 80% of more probability to win outright (i.e. on all counts) in order for objective decision-making to make him go with the alternative.

        With regards to those brothers who plea bargain, prosecutors in these type of weak cases are well aware of the prisoner’s dilemma, the classic game-theory that demonstrates why two people (in this case those accused) might not cooperate (with one “copping out” on the other), even if it is in both their best interests to do so. That’s why these weak cases always rely on one defendant becoming the star witness against the other.

        We might ask, “what about principles”, but it’s easy to say that when you are in the balcony, not in the docket. We all admire and salute the men who can do stick to principles under all circumstances (and no doubt there have been men who done it), but may Allah protect us from that situation, because one could be excused for not wanting to spend his entire life in prison. Those choices are so incredibly tough and difficult that all of us who haven’t had to choose between 10 years and 70 years in prison, should think ten times before questioning the moral courage of any of these brothers (those who became witnesses against others or those who plead guilty).

  13. Sally

    April 27, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Treasury Secretary under President Reagan, had this to say about Aafia Siddiqui in his Feb 2010 article “The U.S. is Now a Police State”:

    ‘The Bush regime found inhumane and totalitarian-minded lawyers and put them to work at the U.S. Department of Justice (sic) to invent arguments that the Bush regime did not need to obey the law……An ignorant and bigoted American jury convicted her for being a Muslim. This is the kind of “justice” that always results when the state hypes fear and demonizes a group.’

    For further articles about the real truth of what is being done to Muslims in USA, read Steve Lendman’s blog — type in in his search box, and see what comes up: “More Arrests in America’s War on Islam”, “Aafia Siddiqui: Victimized by American Depravity”, “Targeting Muslim Charities in America”, to name a few.

    Perhaps now you will understand why Fahad plead “guilty”.

    May Allah grant our brother Fahad and his family sabr, and reward in the Hereafter.

  14. Abdullah

    April 28, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh

    Fahad Hashmi pleaded guilty today to one count of material support. There will be no trial, instead a sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 7th.

    Thank you,
    Muslim Justice Initiative
    Muslimsforjustice.org

  15. Umm Bilqis

    April 29, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    Article on Hashmi, May Allah release Him fom the prisons of the Unjust.
    Al Jazeera:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/04/201042811242294339.html

  16. Umm Ismael

    April 29, 2010 at 6:09 AM

    aoa wr wb,
    May ALLAH Help our brother through unseen means as He did with the companions of Badar. We are too weak but He is All Powerful and we ask Him on account of this weakness to help one who has already suffered incredibly. Ameen

  17. unknown

    April 29, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum,

    It is ridiculous that someone can be prosecuted with such flimsy an evidence and dear brother has been forced to plead guilty. May Allah help our prisoners. amin

  18. Abdullah

    June 9, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    asalam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh.

    Fahad Hashmi’s Sentencing is scheduled for today (Wednesday June 9th, 2010) at 3:00 PM. Please attend and show your support.

    Fahad Hashmi’s Sentencing

    06.09.10

    The Southern District Court of NY
    500 Pearl Street Manhattan, NY
    [In front of Judge Preska, court room 12A]

    TRAINS: J, M or Z to Chambers St. (north exit to Foley Sq.); #4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall (north exit); A, C to Chambers; R, W to City Hall; 1, 2, 3 to Chambers; E or PATH to WTC; B, D to Grand.

    Muslimsforjustice.org
    FreeFahad.com

    Please make sure to pray for our dear brother Fahad. May Allaah ázza wa jall hasten his release and all of the Muslim prisoners, Allaahumma aameen.

  19. Br. Fahad sentenced to 15yrs

    June 9, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh


    inna lillahi wa inna alayhi raji’un.

    Ex-Brooklyn College Student Hashmi Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison

    By Chad Bray Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–A former Brooklyn College student was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday, after he admitted in April to letting a friend from Queens stay in his apartment in London in 2004 and briefly storing items there that were later given to al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.

    At a hearing, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan sentenced Hashmi to 180 months in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release.
    “As the government has pointed out, Mr. Hashmi knew exactly what he was doing and where that equipment stored in his apartment was going,” the judge said.
    Hashmi, 30, pleaded guilty on eve of his trial in April to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda.
    In a rambling statement that lasted more than 10 minutes, Syed Hashmi, a Pakistan native and naturalized U.S. citizen, cited the Koran several times, railed against the conditions of his incarceration and tried to explain his crime, claiming in part he gave his friend money for his friend’s sick daughter.

    At times he read the statement so quickly, it was hard to hear. The judge asked him to speak slower at one point.
    “I take full responsibility for my actions,” Hashmi said.
    Hashmi, who has a long, black beard, broke down several times during his statement. He wore a white skullcap and blue prison garb.

    At his plea hearing in April, Hashmi said a friend told him he was taking waterproof socks, ponchos and outdoor camping equipment to al Qaeda, and he gave the friend $300 to buy a plane ticket to Pakistan. Prosecutors had described the items as “military gear” in court filings.

    Hashmi is the first person to be extradited from the U.K. to face terrorism charges in the U.S. He was taken into custody at London’s Heathrow Airport in June 2006 and brought to the U.S. in May 2007.
    As part of his incarceration, Hashmi has been held in a special housing unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and is subject to so-called “special administrative measures,” which include limits on his ability to meet with persons outside the presence of his attorney, limits on his contact with the news media and recordings of conversations between his cell and other inmates.
    His supporters claim the measures have severely limited his ability to communicate with the outside world and that he’s not allowed any physical contact with family members.

    -By Chad Bray, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-227-2017; chad.bray@dowjones.com

    Ex-Brooklyn College Student Hashmi Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison – WSJ.com

  20. anonymous

    June 14, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    http://justice4fahad.org/2010/06/10/sentencing/

    Please read this summary from a writer who isn’t as right-winged as the mainstream papers for a better (if not complete) account inshaAllah

    • anonymous

      June 14, 2010 at 4:24 PM

      and btw it wasn’t a rambling, it was completely coherent, khutbah worthy speech alhamdulilah. The brother basically explained his situation, explained what he believed (the binding covenant of security amongst the US citizenry and those here on visa etc), apologized for the pain that was caused and thanked his supporters amongst the muslims and non-muslims. May Allah have mercy on him and those in a similar situation. Ameen.

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