Tuesday, December 03, 2013

That FBI-Muslim Sting Thing: NSA Connection

Many of you may recall the story about the Imam and the Pizza-Maker - the dangerous terrorist Muslim duo captured in Albany NY by the FBI... today The Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and the Aref-Hossain/Albany chapter of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) invited all media (including yours truly) to a press conference in the new section of the Masjid As-Salam, 280 Central Avenue, here in Albany. No taking one's shoes off in this particular area of the building. I'm not sure if that's the plan for this section of the mosque: previously all media folk left their shoes in the entrance area. The speakers (Outgoing Albany Common Council member Dom Calsolaro and Aref Attorney Kathy Manley) revealed details regarding the recently filed Reply Memorandum in Yassin Aref’s appeal, as well as the impact of a new Department of Justice policy about warrantless surveillance evidence pertaining to the Albany “sting” case.

Guardian newspaper staff may face charges for assisting terrorists 

The 2004 FBI sting followed this script: the informant, Shahed Hussein, would offer to loan $50,000 cash to pizza-maker Mohammed Hossain, and get back $45,000 in checks from Hossain’s business, telling him that the money was made from buying a Chinese surface to air missile, which was to be provided to a group called JEM (Jaish-e-Mohammed), which was to use it to attack the Pakistani Ambassador in New York City. None of that was true.

Needing a witness to the loan, as is obligatory for Muslims, the men then brought Aref into the arrangement, solely as a witness to the loan transactions. The government eventually arrested both men, claiming that Aref chose to support money laundering by witnessing the loan. The defense argued that Aref, who spoke very poor English at the time, did not understand that this was anything other than a legitimate loan. Defense attorneys claimed that both Aref and Hossain were unfairly convicted–that Hossain was entrapped, and that Aref did not realize any laws were being broken.

Arrested and tried, both Aref and Hossain were sentenced in 2007 to 15 years each in prison. You can catch up with today's chapter of the story here.
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