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Deeds Not Words

lewresize.gifBasically these are the charges against Adham Amin Hassoun, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, and Jose Padilla:

that they conspired to commit acts of murder, kidnapping, and maiming outside the United States, that they committed one or more overt acts in the United States in furtherance of those acts, providing material support and resources, and concealing and disguising the nature of those actions to be used in preparation for a conspiracy to murder, kidnap or maim on foreign soil

It’s clear the prosecution isn’t talking about actual deeds committed by terrorists. But what evidence has the prosecution presented of planning to commit deeds of terrorism? The defense is currently disputing the “few bits” of alleged evidence.

Here’s how Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor sees it:

The three [Hassoun, Jauuousi and Jose Padilla] are facing charges that they plotted to spread violent jihad through a murderous campaign around the world. But federal prosecutors say it is unnecessary to link the terror suspects to an actual plan of terror.

Instead, government lawyers argue that a series of shady phone calls and a few documents are enough to establish the existence of a terror conspiracy and send all three defendants to prison potentially for the rest of their lives.

But after an eight week presentation of evidence by the government, prosecutors have not identified a single individual as a potential target for murder, kidnapping, or maiming, nor have they identified any specific plot to accomplish someone’s murder, kidnapping, or maiming.. 

While no one bets on the outcome of a jury trial, the government has set out a record of spectacular failure when it comes to terrorism cases. Laura Parker at USA Today consulted legal scholars and  terrorism experts about government allegations of terrorism statistics.

“What we see time and again is a big press conference and Justice Department statements about how we’re prosecuting the war on terrorism, and then the cases either fizzle out or the charges are reduced to relatively minor guilty pleas,” says David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who specializes in national security.

And the Department of Justice track record?

A “terrorist report card” prepared in September by the Center on Law and Security at the New York University Law School found that in 510 cases since 9/11 that the government said were terrorism related, only 158 defendants have been prosecuted on charges of terrorism or giving material support to terrorism. The rest have been prosecuted on lesser charges, and no link to terrorism was proved in court. The figures are the most recent available from NYU. (Emphasis added)

The report found a 29% conviction rate in terrorism prosecutions, compared with the Justice Department’s 93% conviction rate in other criminal prosecutions.   

Meanwhile back at the Padilla trial it began to boil down to who’s portrait of the mujahedeen do you believe? Which translation do you regard as true?

Tuesday the imam of the first mosque Padilla studied at following his release from jail, Raed Awad of the Masjid Al-Iman in Ft. Lauderdale, took the stand. Awad admitted his worshipers raised funds to send Padilla to Egypt to study Islam and Arabic. When challenged by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier that Awad’s mosque was raising funds for terrorists, Awad – according to the AP’s Curt Anderson — pointed to a “distinction between terrorists and Islamic mujahedeen who were fighting in defense of Muslims in places like Chechnya, Bosnia and Somalia.”

The mujahedeen (meaning “strugglers”), whom Ronald Reagan praised as “freedom fighters” and who bled the Soviet Union to death, have now become a number of politically diverse, sometimes conflicting groups “struggling” in several parts of the globe with many religious and political differences.     

On Monday, the defense’s translation expert, Kamal Yunis, a Palestinian-born chemist and state-certified Arabic-English translator,  testified that the word “tourism” as used by Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifiah Wael Jayyousi, is not the equivalent of “jihad” but rather “exploration” or “a religious pilgrimage.” The expert contradicted the prosecutor’s claim that “send you two eggplants” meant “sending rocket-propelled grenades purchased through Muslim charitable donations.” “Eggplants,”according to the defense translator, meant $2000 in donations for Muslim children.

Reporters wonder “where’s the beef,”or in this case, where’s the evidence of deeds – even planned deeds. So far it’s word games, “he-said-he-said,” as the case of dueling translators continues. All the prosecution has shown are words and one document  allegedly with Padilla’s signature and fingerprints. Words and one paper.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations in August. Will they be able to see that disputed words and one piece of paper –even with fingerprints –  do not constitute actual terror deeds such as murder, kidnapping and maiming? 

(with Christopher Austin )

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Lewis Z. Koch

Lewis Z. Koch