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What We Can Learn from the “Butcher of Bosnia”

Shibli Zaman

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

The ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 was the greatest genocide in European history after the Holocaust of World War II[1], and remains Europe’s worst genocide ever since. It left well over 100,000 Bosnians murdered[2],[3] — 8,000 of those in Srebrenica alone — and nearly 3,000,000 souls displaced. Women were raped by the tens of thousands[4] as an official strategy of the Serbs, since a woman’s honor is so sacred in Islam. Children were slaughtered with wanton abandon and suckling babies were beheaded in front of their mothers.

In the Writ of Summons of the District Court of The Hague, eyewitness Ramiza Gurdić testified:

“At one time, I saw how a young boy of about ten was killed by Serbs in Dutch uniform. This happened in front of my own eyes. The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her. The young boy was placed on his mother’s lap. The young boy was killed. His head was cut off. The body remained on the lap of the mother. The Serbian soldier placed the head of the young boy on his knife and showed it to everyone. There were at that moment Dutch soldiers in the vicinity. They stood by and did nothing. They appeared to be entirely indifferent. The woman was hysterical and began to call out for help. A Dutch soldier who was standing there said only, ‘No, no, no.'”[5]

There are scores of testimonies like this from Bosnian refugees wherein European “peacekeepers” watched without any care as the most nightmarish rapes and murders were perpetrated against the Bosnian people. These were not horrific exceptions. These were the horrific norm for years!

The mastermind behind all of this was Radovan Karadžić, President of the Serb Republic from 1992-1996.

Karadžić was found to have been “instrumental” in a campaign of sniping and shelling that terrorized the civilian population of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. He was also convicted of being in charge of taking United Nations employees as hostages and obstructing NATO from carrying out airstrikes on behalf of besieged Bosnian Muslim civilians. He was found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A few days ago The Hague, while finding Karadžić guilty of all of  the aforementioned, crimes which earned the Nazis the death sentence after World War II, sentenced him to a mere 40 years in prison.

Just 40 Years

People get more than that for petty white collar crimes much less the genocide of over 100,000. March 24, 2016 will go down as a day of bitter anger and grief for those whose murders and sacrifices have been profaned and spit upon by The Hague.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. The former Bosnian-Serbs leader is indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, 2nd right, in the courtroom in The Hague, The Netherlands Thursday March 24, 2016. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)

When we look at the Nuremberg trials and the sentences meted out to the Nazis, we see a very painful and troubling inconsistency that tells us —  even if you are White European, as the Bosnians are, your blood is worth nothing if you are Muslim. Here are some of those convicted at the Nuremberg trials after World War II:

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war-crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[6]
  • Alfred Jodl – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[7]
  • Hans Frank – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[8]
  • Hermann Göring – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH. Committed suicide before execution.[9]
  • Fritz Sauckel – Charged with and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[10]
  • Joachim von Ribbentrop – Charged with and convicted of crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[11]
  • Wilhelm Keitel – Charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[12]
  • Alfred Rosenberg – For his role as a planner of Nazi invasions of the Soviet Union and Norway, Rosenberg was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[13]
  • Wilhelm Frick – Frick’s main crime was his role in formulating the Enabling Act (later, the Nuremberg Law) as Minister of the Interior that led to people under those laws being sent to German concentration camps. So as an enabler but not an actual player in exacting the murderous results of those laws, he was charged with and convicted of planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[14]
  • Julius Streicher – This is the most interesting case which most lucidly displays the prejudice and disparity Europe has against Muslims. Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. He was tried for being a firebrand ideologue of the Nazis and not for any active involvement in the Holocaust. He was charged for his hate speech against the Jews. Prosecutors argued that Streicher’s rhetoric was so inflammatory that he should be considered an “accessory to murder”. He was acquitted of crimes against peace, but found guilty of crimes against humanity. SENTENCED TO DEATH.[15]

Granted, the death sentence no longer exists in international law but these stiff sentences from the Nuremberg Trials make clear that anything less than a life sentence for Karadžić is a sheer obscenity.

There is a lot of talk these days about “White Privilege” but the Muslims of Bosnia were nothing other than White Europeans, 100% of them. Did they get a country exclusively to themselves like what was awarded to the Jews, in someone else’s land, out of Europe’s guilt for the Holocaust? They absolutely did not.

They were forced to create a secular state with their Bosnian Muslim identity watered down into a pluralistic kumbaya of Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats. They didn’t get a religious state like Israel where they could keep everyone else sequestered into serfdom in an apartheid state with an actual wall to enforce the religiously and ethnically based class oppression. To the Bosnians’ credit they wouldn’t have even wanted that. But getting it wasn’t even remotely on Europe’s radar, nor did Europe feel any guilt for the genocide they watched happen in their own backyard for years.

Be Just but Expect Injustice

Yet, the lesson we would learn from this is one that was taught to us a millennium and a half ago with the revelation of the Qur’an:
8-73

“The non-Muslims are protectors of one another. If you do not [protect each other] the same, there will be lawlessness and injustice in the land.” [8:73]

As Muslims, we are to be the most just, equitable and friendly to the non-Muslims living around us. But we are to never forget the reality that, when it comes down to it, they will protect each other over us. There are, indeed, cases —arguably, exceptions— wherein non-Muslims valiantly champion the defense of Muslims. We see this often and we must acknowledge and respect it. However, the general rule is that humans will be humans, and will find an affinity towards their own kind over the “other”. But what is important for us to also acknowledge is that the Qur’an states a reality in that the demarcations between peoples in the world will ultimately narrow down to Muslim vs. Non-Muslim. When it finally reaches that point, a sign prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will have been fulfilled.

So always be just, fair and friendly towards your non-Muslim neighbors. Show them such kindness and respect that you stand out as an example of those ideals. That’s you doing your part as a Muslim who truly adheres to Islam. But never, ever be fooled into thinking that they would choose you over those whom they see as their own, nor are they inclined to deliver you the same justice as they would to their own.

That was proven on March 24, 2016 in Radovan Karadžić, a murderous lowlife blackguard who, much unlike some Nazis executed for far lesser crimes than his, will spend the rest of his life in relative comfort and care even if confined to “prison”.


 

[1] European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica, P6_TA(2009)0028 European Parliament – 15 January 2009.

[2] Bosnia’s “Book of the Dead”, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 26 June 2007

[3] Zwierzchowski, Jan and Tabeau, Ewa (1 February 2010). “The 1992–95 War in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Census-based multiple system estimation of casualties undercount”.

[4] “Statement by Dr. Haris Silajdžić Chairman of the Presidency Bosnia and Herzegovina”. United Nations. 23 September 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

[5] Writ of Summons District Court The Hague 4 June 2007, Section 237, p. 101

[6] Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide, Leslie Alan Horvitz, Christopher Catherwood, p. 257

[7] Ibid, p. 253

[8] Ibid, p. 157

[9] Ibid, p. 177

[10] Ibid, p. 383

[11] Ibid, p. 368

[12] Ibid, p. 262

[13] Ibid, p. 370-371

[14] Ibid, p. 158

[15] Ibid, p. 407-409


Shibli Zaman is a writer, analyst and blogger from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. His time overseas included studying Hanbali jurisprudence and working for Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah to start the website IslamToday.com. He is an SAP Netweaver consultant by profession.

Shibli Zaman is a writer from Texas with a background in Semitic linguistics and philology who spent 4 years studying Islam overseas. Literate in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, he received a Gold Medal from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK for Bible prowess. He studied Computer Science from the University of Houston and is an SAP consultant by profession.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    jjvanka

    March 27, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    There have been atrocities in BiH by Croats and also by Bosniaks, but they aren’t mentioned at all.

    • Avatar

      Sir Sid

      March 27, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      That’s because the article was about Cowardzic who is a Serb.

    • Avatar

      Eddo

      March 27, 2016 at 2:04 PM

      Yes, but while those incidents were isolated occurrences, what the Serbs did was a well planned out systematically and thoroughly planned out ethnic cleansing… Happened in Bosnia, happened in Croatia, happened in Kosovo. There is a reason why 95 percent of the captives in the Hague are Serbs, and 5 percent from the nations that Serbs attacked. Simple as that, stick to the facts. If you think I sound biased then please look up some independent online sources. ;)

  2. Avatar

    Michael Thompson

    March 27, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    The comment about “100,000 Bosnians” killed is incorrect. The Sarajevo government published a figure of 100,000 total deaths in Bosnia – from all sides. Of the 100,000 approximately 60,000 are combatants from the Serb, Muslim and Croat militaries. Of the 38,000 civilian deaths, the majority were Bosnian Muslim. But they also include thousands of Croat and Serb deaths.

    • Avatar

      Amal

      March 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM

      Esselamu alejkum

      I am my selfe Bosnian and a Muslim. Regarding the facts how many of people from all sides were killed, official dates concluded from the side of ” Demografic centre” of Hag show that most were killed Bosnian Muslims- with number of more than 68 000 killed people. This number is not everything, because during genocide comitted from side of Srbs thousands of women were raped, and about 3 million Bosnian Muslims were forced to leave their home land. Regarding other people in Bosnia and Hercegovina, it was killed about 22 000 of Srbs, and 8 000 of Croats.

      It is also important to say that behind this war or better say genocide, was a first intention of genocide from the side of Srb army and higher Srb leaders including Karadzic to ” get rid” of one people, only because we have different religion, tradition and names.

  3. Avatar

    Mahmud

    March 27, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    May Allah exalt the author if this article and VERY PERTINENT reminder by Shibli at the end!!!!

    Best MM article since Abu Aaliyahs masterpiece.

    • Avatar

      Roshanali Lakhani

      March 29, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      Brother Mahmud in Islaam, partner in humanity, I do agree.
      The facts are exposed as they were for many years, yet it took more than 20 years to convict the “Butcher”. He should have been convicted and sentenced to-DEATH/
      (life in jail) PENALTY. He is going to die soon (as he is already old now) without going through his punishment fully. Considering this he should be imposed with strictest rules- not a comfortable time in jail
      -Roshanali

  4. Avatar

    Julia

    March 28, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    great article mashAllah, shedding light on the hypocrisy that runs rampant against Muslims and their blood. It is a travesty that the “Butcher’s” blood is more sacred because of “humanist” ideals that the dead Bosnians shall never benefit from. May Allah wrap each and every victim in his infinite mercy and light, Ameen.

  5. Avatar

    Roshanali Lakhani

    March 29, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    THE ARTICLE IS VERY, VERY INFORMATIVE AND THE FACTS CORRECT. HOWEVER, SADLY THESE DO NOT REACH TO THE GENERAL READER- A PERSON OF ANY RELIGION FOLLOWER. THE FACTS SHOULD BE MORE PUBLICISED AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM BE MORE RIGHTFUL WHEN IT COMES TO HUMANTY. IT SHOULD NOT BE BIASED.

    -Roshanali Lakhani

  6. Avatar

    Matthias Hess

    March 30, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    What happened in this war is a very very very sad tragedy. But never ever compare it with what had happened during the second world war. In three days there were as many people killed in Auschwitz or in Leningrad or in other places as there has been in the whole bosnian war. And beside all these masskillings during the II world war the only houses which weren’t distroyed at the end of the war in Serbia, in Ukraine, Belaruss etc where in the german quartiers in the big cities.

  7. Avatar

    Joe A Dobson

    April 4, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Salams. Correct me if I am wrong but I was of the understanding that the court in the Hague cannot issue death sentences to anyone. Therefore, they can only jail people. Given how old Karadžić is, a 40 year sentence means he will die in prison. They could have given him a 200 year sentence but it would make no difference, he would still die in prison.

    Therefore this article in relation to his sentencing makes no sense at all. What am I missing?

    • Avatar

      M. Mahmud

      April 9, 2016 at 6:33 PM

      The ICC is a pathetic court that spends millions of dollars and plenty of time to convict a few war criminals and give them a nice comfortable stay in prison.

  8. Avatar

    Peace

    April 9, 2016 at 3:54 AM

    Without knowing a lot about the Hague court processes and not intending to justify Karadzic, it is important to know that Balkan non Muslim people have much resentment to Muslims due to –
    1. Ottoman / Muslim persecution of Christians over the centuries of Ottoman / Muslim rule.
    2. Muslim atrocities committed against non Muslim peoples in the Balkans in WW2.
    Let us pray that the love of God and forgiveness will rule.

    Over 750,000 Serbs died at the hands of Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who colluded with the Nazis in WWII. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was instrumental in helping recruit Yugoslavian Muslims into the Muslim Hanjar SS division, which committed many genocidal acts against the Serbs, who were painted as racially inferior to the Bosnian Muslims and thus worthy of destruction. This set the stage for the animosities of the 1990s.

    In addition to the Bosnian Muslims killed in the late 1990s, thousands of Serbian Orthodox Christian men, women and children were also killed. Because the Serbs are of the Orthodox faith and aligned to Russia, the Western world ignored atrocities against the Serbs and allied with the Muslims and Croats. As a result, we hear only that side of the conflict. In fact, there were three sides who fiercely hated each other and all committed atrocities. It was a very sad situation. The degree of hostility between the three groups shocked even the Nazis.

  9. Avatar

    Rehmat

    April 11, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    Bosnian Christian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic aka the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ was not alone in the massacre, rape and expulsion of over 200,000 Muslims in B-H. He had a number of Zionist Jews to carry out his Muslim Holocaust.

    Missing at the world court was the indictment of three Muslim-hater Zionist Jews; Richard Holbrooks (US), Carl Bildt (EU) and Gen. Bernard Jean Vieh (UN) who gave ‘green light’ to Serbian forces to attack the Muslim areas including Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazda. It happened when the western powers realized that Bosnian army was about to recapture most of the land it lost to Serbian army during the early stages of the war. The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.

    Former Bosnian foreign minister, Mohammed Sacirbey, has claimed that in order to prepare ground for NATO’s “humanitarian invasion” – the Muslims genocide was engineered.

    “That involved Richard Holbrooke and involved Carl Bildt who, then, was the EU mediator and now is Sweden’s foreign minister. It involved a French general who was the head of the military forces of the UN in Bosnia — Bernard Jean Vieh. It involved Yasushi Akashi who was the head UN civilian official. They, in effect, acquiesced, gave the green light to Milosevic, Mladic as well as Karadzic to take over the territory of Srebrenica but also Zepa and Gorazde,”says Sacirbey in an interview with Press TV.

    https://rehmat1.com/2012/05/27/the-butcher-of-bosnia-and-his-zionist-helpers/

    • Avatar

      JF

      April 11, 2016 at 4:18 PM

      “The Bosnian army received arms shipment from Iran and some foreign Muslim groups.”

      “Foreign Muslim groups”. You must be referring to the Wahhabist-financed terrorist group al Qaeda, every Taliban mujahid available to travel, hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, members of the bin Laden family and any number of others who showed up in the former Yugoslavia looking for their newest conquest over the infidel.

      The Bosnians incorporated these vicious killers and torturers into their own unit and set them loose on their opponents.

    • Avatar

      Peace

      April 13, 2016 at 3:28 AM

      “Muslim hater Zionist Jews ” ! ? Next you’ll be referring to Jews as “Apes, Dogs and Pigs” as is common amongst Muslims.

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala

        April 15, 2016 at 11:48 PM

        Define common?

        I have not heard this and I live in a country which is 95% muslim.

        *This comment is made in a personal capacity and may not reflect the views of MuslimMatters and/or its staff.

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#Current Affairs

Muslims Leaders Who Are Also Foreign Agents

When American Muslim leaders are also foreign agents, you need to consider FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Ahmed Shaikh explores how this law may apply to American Muslim leaders who fall into “Team UAE” and “Team Turkey”

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Foreign Agents in the Muslim Community
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Foreign Agents in the US have a meaningful effect on Americans in the United States.  Should Muslims in the United States adopt the foreign policy narrative of the United Arab Emirates?  Should we be against calling the mass killing of Armenians during World War I “genocide?” Can American Muslim leaders and nonprofits be the voice of governments, give them public relations advice and do their bidding?

These questions are largely irrelevant as the American Muslim community already has some activists and Islamic Scholars who are foreign agents.

I am not claiming being a foreign agent is inherently wrong, unethical or somehow prohibited in Islam. In many instances, being a foreign agent is fine, or at least you can find examples where the activity is harmless and maybe even beneficial. Non-Muslims serve as foreign agents, peddling influence and giving advice. Why can’t ordinary Muslims, even Muslim leaders, activists, and Islamic scholars do the same? What we need though is transparency about these relationships, similar to how we keep tabs on people who carry hazardous waste. It’s often a useful and beneficial service, but also, well, hazardous. 

As we have seen from recent cases Imaad Zuberi, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort , it is reasonable to expect more prosecutions of unregistered foreign agents in the coming months and years.

American Team Turkey vs. American Team UAE

My purpose here is not to re-litigate events during the first world war or the UAE’s murderous worldwide batil-slinging foreign policy. It is also not to offer a further critique of American Muslim leaders and scholars who blow smoke for one foreign interest or another. For that, you can read my recent article. Instead, it is to help American Muslims involved with foreign entities to be aware of the law so they can prepare accordingly. 

The “Team Turkey” vs. “Team UAE” saga playing out among the Muslim community’s leadership, including nonprofits and religious leaders, is dangerous, and there is potential legal jeopardy to members of both “teams.” The law in an individual case is often complex, and I am not claiming anyone referenced in this article is a criminal. However, anyone who thinks aspects of this article applies to them should seek legal counsel post haste.

Pariah status may rub off

In the eyes of the US government, the UAE may be up one day, and Turkey may be down. Pakistan is pretty much always “down” no matter who is in power in the United States, so Muslims working with that government and various political parties and institutions in that country should be especially sensitive about being a law enforcement target, even if they believe they are working for a worthy cause. Keep in mind how the Muslim community has been treated historically by the Justice Department. For this or any future US Administration, American Muslim leadership may be low hanging fruit for prosecutors. 

Right now, the UAE, in particular, aggressively buys loyalty, buys people in positions to peddle influence on its behalf. It uses straw donors and funnels its money around the United States through various entities to get what it wants. These tactics work for them now, but it may not work forever. Any Muslim majority country can get “pariah” status and the social and political environment in the United States may turn against that country and its agents.

If the political winds in the United States change against the UAE, their leadership will probably not be affected. Things may be different for their agents in the United States, however. The same may well be true for agents of Turkey. We can learn from their best known non-Muslim foreign agent, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn

The United States has a long history, going back to its founding, of being suspicious of foreign influence in government and public opinion. Various clauses of the constitution and several laws exist to address this historic concern, though many are quite weak.  The one that Muslim leaders with ties to foreign governments should be most concerned with is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) 

Anyone who closely followed the Mueller investigation into the 2016 Presidential election is likely somewhat familiar with FARA.  However, of more interest should be the prosecution and guilty plea last year of Dr. Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry, who was prosecuted for activities that are remarkably common for Muslim leaders, especially immigrants.

It’s not a crime to be an agent of a foreign government. The crime, as those paying close attention to current events, will understand,  is in not registering with the Justice Department. In short, it’s a federal crime for agents of foreign entities or people engaged in political or other activities in the statute, with some exceptions, to not register under this law. US Law defines the term ” foreign agent”- it is not necessarily pejorative. It does not mean being a spy.

Indeed, foreign influence-peddling is an entire industry. Often, people who engage in “influence peddling” are not especially sophisticated and may not be paid at all. They may simply be immigrant activists who love their homeland.

In the case of Chaudhry, he pleaded guilty to not registering an unincorporated group he created in his home, the “Pakistan American League,” and his work as a “foreign agent.” His crime? He spoke to officials in the Pakistani government, and worked in Pakistan’s interests in D.C. area government and “think tank” circles by organizing “roundtable discussions.” He was not paid for his work as an “agent” by Pakistan.  All of this is legal, except that he failed to register.

A Law About Transparency

Foreign Agents need to report on their activities or risk fine and imprisonment. Every six months, the US Attorney General issues a report on foreign agents who register under this law to Congress. You can find the most recent report here. These reports offer a helpful description of registered foreign agents operating in the United States, but anyone can take a deeper dive into the reporting if they want to. FARA is about transparency.

FARA does not prohibit speech or activities by anyone. The purpose is to inform the public and government about the source of information used to attempt to influence them. FARA is an old law that US Muslims need in our communities right about now. 

Enforcement of this law had been mostly dormant for years, and the Mueller investigation is said to have given it new life. Registrations under the law are up.

FARA is broader than you might think

FARA is not just for agents of foreign governments. Being an agent of a foundation, royal family, oligarch, or any other entity or person can trigger the same requirements and cause criminal liability for those who fail to register. Many registrations under FARA involve agents of entities and people that are not governments. 

As we have seen from Chaudhry’s case, Muslim leaders, activists, and scholars don’t need to be paid to be “foreign agents” under the law. Congress understood foreign agents could work for nonmonetary benefits. A foreign agent does not need to agree with everything the foreign principal does and says. A Muslim leader who gives certain kinds of advice to a foreign entity may need to register to avoid criminal liability. It does not matter if the foreign principal ignores the advice. FARA is not just a law about foreign lobbying, indeed lobbyists have a separate registration system and law.  Virtually any work to influence public opinion or give advice will fall under the law. There are many opportunities for Muslim leaders to get themselves into serious trouble

Religion or university affiliation may not save foreign agents 

There are exceptions to FARA reporting requirements. For example, diplomats, many journalists, and bona fide trade and commercial enterprises do not need to report.  Say Muhammad is the agent of a Turkish exporter of Turkish delight, selling delicious packaged desserts to grocery stores around the Midwest. Muhammad does not need to register under FARA. 

Similarly, those involved in bona fide religious, academic, or fine arts pursuits are exempt. So if Saad, a US Citizen, is hired by the Saudi government to teach Quran recitation to children of employees of the local Saudi consulate, Saad would not need to register. 

 If, however, the Turkish Delight company asked Muhammad to write op-eds and hold meetings to prevent tariffs on Turkey, well, that’s different. If Saad starts to give public relations advice to his Saudi employers, he should call a lawyer. It’s worth noting that FARA is not the only registration and disclosure statute. A lawyer with expertise in this area can help them sort it out. 

Learn from others

Carrying water for a foreign entity’s political agenda, a regular occurrence by some American Muslim leaders is not bona fide religious or academic activity. Such conduct falls squarely into a danger zone under the law. The US Justice Department has confirmed the religious and academic exception’s narrow scope. The Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, for example, wanted an opinion they are exempt from registration.   They were working on developing a museum, which is an academic institution. However, the Justice Department advised the foundation must register under FARA. The reasons, among other non-nefarious sounding things, were exhibits on bilateral relations between South Korea and the United States.

In 2017, TV station RT America and news outlet, Sputnik, “both Russian-funded but with production companies in the US, registered as ‘foreign agents’ under pressure from the Justice Department.”

Muslim leaders with ties to foreign entities should also look to the example of the American section of the World Zionist Organization. The WZO has appropriately registered itself as a foreign agent. Its work seems reasonably standard for a Zionist organization, though. WZO “participated in workshops, seminars, and conferences and distributed materials to increase support for the foreign principal’s educational, cultural, and religious goals.” The foreign principal was the World Zionist Organization in Israel, not the government of Israel itself. Still, it needed to register. 

Even if someone falls into an exception to FARA, another related statute may well cause liability. So anyone who has to look around for exceptions should check with an attorney. 

Sunshine in the Muslim community

Much of the work against CVE involved learning what Muslim leaders working with governments were up to. Because of the federal “Freedom of Information Act” and state Public Records Acts, we have a better idea of what Muslim leaders have been collaborating with the war on terrorism against our community. The availability of public records has also kept some Muslims away from unsavory funding opportunities. There is always a risk they will be found out. Who needs that drama? As the late US Supreme Court Justice Luis Brandies famously said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” 

Some in the Countering Violent Extremism space have looked to foreign governments and organizations, particularly in the UAE. Working against the US Muslim community, which includes naming groups such as CAIR and MAS “terrorist organizations,” and investing in anti-Muslim surveillance is fundamental to UAE foreign policy. Foreign entities are not subject to the Federal Freedom of Information Act or state Public Records Acts.

Covertness can be beneficial when prosecuting the war on terrorism in our communities on behalf of a foreign master. However, security-state contractors working with foreign entities are engaged in an inherently political enterprise and should register. Unfortunately, nobody from the Muslim community in the CVE sector has. They should either start or quit foreign-sponsored CVE altogether. 

FARA is your friend

We have a strong need for transparency among Muslim leaders and organizations. Foreign interests have been looking to influence the US Muslim civil society for several years. It may well be that agents of foreign nation-states or entities in them have valuable things to say. The purpose of FARA is not to deny your ability to hear them and learn from them. However, knowing someone is a foreign agent will help us place the information provided by a Muslim leader, activist or scholar in a better context. 

Muslim leaders and organizations should strongly encourage each other to look at FARA when any foreign entity is involved. If for no other reason, to avoid potential criminal liability.

If you are a Muslim leader, activist or scholar working with a foreign principal, retain legal counsel. You need to know if registration is required. If it is necessary, and it often will be, provide a fulsome disclosure and keep updating it. You can be sure there will be at least a few Muslims reading it. 

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#Current Affairs

A Closer Look At The Congressional Hearing on Human Rights in South Asia

Hena Zuberi

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Kashmir hearing in Congress
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

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Expectations on Capitol Hill were pretty low going into the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation’s historic hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia”. Previously, hearings on India have not been critical and the Kashmiri Muslim point of view has not been discussed.

Chairman of the sub-committee Brad Sherman (D-CA) wasted no time setting the stage for where he wanted to go with this hearing, stating, ”the entire world is focused today on what is happening in Kashmir.” He also pointed to the state of the 2 million-minority population in Assam. Missing from his opening statements were remarks on the state of the rest of the minorities in India, esp. Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Muslims. Ranking member Ted Yoho (R-FL) was soft on the gross realities of the occupation, highlighting one case of a Kashmiri constituent, and referred to the abrogation of Article 370 as an internal matter of India. He also brought up the Indian talking point of economic progress in the region but this concept was thoroughly dismissed by later testimony and Q&A.

The State department veteran Alice Wells, Acting Secretary on South and Central Asian Affairs seemed woefully ill-prepared for the critical nature of the hearing. Both Wells and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Destro could not or did not present solid facts and figures about detention and tried to explain away the oppression as “inconveniences”. They were unable to comment or provide clarity on the situation on the ground in Kashmir, with Destro saying, “we are in the same information blackout as you are.” Some of Sec. Wells’s comments were of direct Indian government persuasion.

Several of Justice For All’s talking points were raised during the hearing.

There was commentary on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked about the anti-Muslim program. She questioned the panel on the public statements by Indian officials that only Muslims have to prove their birth records. Rejecting the notion that a democratic ally cannot be policed, she said that the United States does that in many situations and “this should not be an exception.”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman Sherman, along the same lines.

Destro observed that the appeals process “may disadvantage poor and illiterate populations who lack documentation”. “We are closely following this situation and urge the Government of India to take these issues into consideration,” he added.

”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman ShermanClick To Tweet

Wells testified that “violence and discrimination against minorities in India, including cow vigilante attacks against members of the Dalit and Muslim communities, and the existence of anti-conversion laws in nine states” are not in keeping with India’s legal protections for minorities.

Congresswoman Alice Spanberger, (D-VA) a former CIA intelligence officer, asked whether India has shared examples of terror attacks and incidents that have been thwarted due to the communications blockade. When Wells stated that she could not comment, Spanberger asked for a classified hearing so that US officials could give their assessment on the validity of the national security argument of the Indian government. Chair Sherman associated himself with her questioning and vowed to take her suggestion seriously.

Chairman Brad Sherman, as well as several other Congresspeople both on and off the House Foreign Relations Committee, asked several pertinent and critical questions.

Questioning the Indian Government narrative Chairman Sherman asked if the United is “supposed to trust these government of India officials when the government of India doesn’t allow our diplomats to visit?” Representative Sheila Jackson asked if reputable Indian diplomats or journalists had ever been denied entry into any state in the United States?

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) referred to a report about the detention of dozens of children in Kashmir and said detention without charges is unacceptable. She expressed her concerns about religious freedom in India and said that she proposes to bring a bipartisan resolution in Congress.

Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and David Cicilline of Rhode Island both had a heavy human rights approach to the questioning. Congresswoman Lee asked Assistant Secretary Destro if he would describe the situation as a “humanitarian crisis,” Mr Destro said, “Yes, it is.” She then went on to call the United States government to stop a potential genocide.

Washington has not changed its stance on the designation of the Line of Control. Chairman Sherman brought up the issue of disputed territory to the State Department.“We consider the Line of Control (LoC) a de facto line separating two parts of Kashmir,” answered Wells. “We recognize de facto administrations on both sides of LoC.”

The subcommittee focused on personal testimonies as well as human rights organization Amnesty’s testimony during the second half of the hearing.

Though no Kashmiri Muslims testified, the panel presented electrifying testimonies from Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri and Dr. Angana Chatterji, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Bearing witness to the rising fascism and Hindu nationalism’s grip on India, both witnesses brought up beef lynchings, with Chatterji raising the concern of the genocidal inclinations of the Modi government. 

“Hindu majoritarianism – the cultural nationalism and political assertion of the Hindu majority – sanctifies India as intrinsically Hindu and marks the non-Hindu as its adversary. Race and nation are made synonymous, and Hindus –the formerly colonized, now governing, elite – are depicted as the national race,” said Dr. Chatterji.

Kashmiri witness Dr. Nitisha Kaul stated in her testimony that “human rights defenders, who were already under severe pressure, since August 5 are unable to function in Kashmir. For instance, every year on 30 August, the UN Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons led by Ms Parveena Ahangar, organises a vigil protest involving hundreds of elderly women and men whose sons had become victims of for instance, in the most recent parliamentary elections, the voters’ turnout was very low and in many booths, not a single vote was cast.”

Kaul emphasized the extension of the oppression, by highlighting that this year the peaceful gathering of elderly parents mourning and waiting for their disappeared sons was not allowed. She shared Ahanga’s quote: “This year we have been strangled, and there was no coming there was no coming together because, through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”

Ilhan Omar challenged Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s take that the siege was in place to save Muslim women from “terrorists.” This is a trope that is often used to wage war and is especially used in the so-called “war on terror.” “It is a very colonial move on the part of the nation-states around it as if they are “liberating Kashmiri women,” said Dr. Kaul.

Chatterji bore witness to the woes of Kashmiri women who bear the brunt of the Indian occupational forces’ sexual brutality. “The woman’s body becomes the battlefield,” she said replying to a question by Congresswoman Houlahan from Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaul stated that the 1944 new Kashmir manifesto contained an entire section on gender rights. She spoke on the equity and equality in Kashmir: “They go to protests. Women become heads of households because of dead husbands.”

She also reminded the committee that BJP’s Amit Shah, also part of the government in 2002 and responsible for the program on Muslim community stated that Western human rights cannot be blindly applied here in India.

Representative Wild from Pennsylvania asked why the Indian government would not allow transparency. When human rights organizations and journalists can work in active war zones, she rejected the anti-terrorism narrative pushed by Ravi Batra, a last-minute BJP addition to the panel. “When there isn’t transparency something is being hidden and this is what really concerns me terribly,” said Wild.

A Sindhi-American witness spoke on minority rights in Pakistan, especially the forced conversion of Hindus. This is a concern that needs to be tackled by Muslims as there is no compulsion in Islam and is antithetical to the religion.

During the hearing, Amnesty International reported thousands in detention under the Public Safety Act while the State Department numbered it at hundreds. Dr. Asif Mahmoud, a key organizer, presented the health situation in Kashmir.

The overall situation of the Rohingya was covered and links were made to the start of the genocide in Burma and the parallels in India. The members of the House referred to it as genocide with the State Department still calling it ethnic cleansing.

Although the hearing focused on the current state of Jammu and Kashmir and not much was brought up about self-determination or the plebiscite, Kashmiri-Americans and their supporters left the hearing room satisfied that their voices were heard for the first time in the halls of the US Congress.

What was most concerning point of the entire hearing was that Kashmir was not brought up categorically as disputed territory and the issue was referred to as an integral matter of India. This needs deep, consistent and long-term work by advocates of Kashmir. With the continuous rise of RSS, Indian minority issues need a much sharper focus, and a regular pounding of the pavements of Congress to educate the Foreign Relations committees.

Some action items for American Muslims post-hearing.

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What We Should Know About The Slaying Of An Imam 10 Years Ago In Dearborn

Dawud Walid, Guest Contributor

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informant jibril imam Luqman
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

October 28, 2019 marks 10 years since the tragic homicide of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah who was shot 20 times in Dearborn, Michigan by a special FBI tactical squad. The homicide of Imam Abdullah was the culmination of the FBI spending over a million dollars in a so-called counterterrorism investigation which included rental of a commercial warehouse and freight trucks, the purchase of expensive electronic items and payment to at least 3 confidential informants. The raid on that fateful day in which Abdullah was killed and some of his congregants were arrested had nothing to do with terrorism-related charges, yet the imam and by extension the Detroit Muslim community was smeared in the process.

The FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed that agents were compelled to kill Abdullah because he purportedly shot a law enforcement canine during the arrest raid. CAIR-Michigan filed a lawsuit against the FBI for wrongful death and fraud in this matter because there was no forensic evidence that corroborated that Abdullah had a firearm much less shot an FBI dog, which the bureau considered a law enforcement officer. There were no proofs provided that any gunpowder was on Abdullah’s hand or fingertips which would have existed if he had fired a gun, and none of his DNA nor fingerprints were found on the alleged gun. In fact, there was not even a picture of a gun at the scene nor did the Dearborn Police see any gun. The FBI blocked the Dearborn Police from entering the scene of the homicide for over an hour after the shooting which allowed the FBI special tactical team to leave with the purported firearm. In other words, the shooters of Abdullah, who headed back to DC without even being questioned by the Dearborn Police, are the only source that he had a gun. We believe that the FBI used what is known as a throwaway gun in a coverup when they killed the imam.

To add insult to injury that tragic day when Abdullah was shot 20 times including in the back and groin, law enforcement used their helicopter to fly the injured FBI dog, which was most likely shot by friendly fire, to a veterinarian hospital instead of using it to fly the imam to a close-by hospital. When the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan and the Acting US Attorney held a press conference about the incident, it was followed up later with special recognition for “Freddy” the FBI dog while the imam was painted as a type of extremist who wanted to establish sharia in the Westside of Detroit.

To add insult to injury that tragic day when Abdullah was shot 20 times including in the back and groin, law enforcement used their helicopter to fly the injured FBI dog, which was most likely shot by friendly fire, to a veterinarian hospital instead of using it to fly the imam to a close-by hospital.Click To Tweet

The lawsuit which we filed against the FBI was dismissed not because of the merits of our arguments but due to the federal government during the Obama administration suppressing information. The FBI would not release the names of their shooting squad which forced us to name them as John Does. The DOJ countered that we did not have standing on behalf of the family because we did not name actual persons. When we refiled using the names of the Special Agent in Charge and the head of the tactical team, neither who were actual shooters, the DOJ argued that the statute of limitations ran out in our complaint. We submitted an appeal to the US Supreme Court regarding the coordinated suppression of evidence; however, our appeal was denied. We still hold to this day that the FBI wrongfully killed the imam which was followed up by a systematic coverup.

Since the homicide of Abdullah, we now know that government surveillance against the Muslim community and the suspected terrorist watchlists grew tremendously during the Obama years in comparison to the Bush era. Also, the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) which further targeted the community began under the Obama administration. Government spying and the broad usage of confidential informants, some who act as agent provocateurs, in our community are still concerns of ours. Where Americans pray or who we associate with that may have unpopular political views should not be predicates for FBI surveillance. In many cases, this has led to young American Muslims being criminalized. For Imam Abdullah, it led to his demise.

During the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, I ask us all to recommit ourselves to standing for the civil liberties of all Americans to not be mass surveilled and for none of us to aid and abet any governmental programs that facilitate of the violation of our 1st Amendment rights falsely in the name of public safety and national security. Click To Tweet

As my mentor, the late Ron Scott with the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said when he stood with us in this case, “We are not anti-police; we are anti-law enforcement misconduct.” It is not our position that law enforcement be completely abolished. We are, however, against the unethical usage of informants which is part and parcel of the prolific history of the FBI in targeting prominent Americans such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, whose religious and political views were viewed as threatening by the status quo. During the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, I ask us all to recommit ourselves to standing for the civil liberties of all Americans to not be mass surveilled and for none of us to aid and abet any governmental programs that facilitate of the violation of our 1st Amendment rights falsely in the name of public safety and national security. We never want to see another homicide such as what took place to Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah due to overzealous actions predicated upon misguided FBI policy.

Photo: Luqman Abdullah, second from left. FBI informant “Jibril,” third from left. Credit: Intercept

21 Shots and the Pursuit of Justice: An Imam (Luqman Ameen Abdullah) Dies in Michigan

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