June 1, 2005
WAR: Self-Parody Alert, Bias Edition
New York Times headline:
Anti-Muslim Bias Seen in Charges Against Man Linked to Al Qaeda
I swear I am not making this up. Who "saw" this "bias"?
After the arraignment, Anthony Ricco, one of Mr. Shah's two lawyers, said the arrest was typical of the government's efforts to cast suspicion on Muslims in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"He wouldn't be here if he wasn't a Muslim," Mr. Ricco told reporters outside the courthouse.
Well, that part may or may not be true, but not in the way Mr. Ricco suggests, and certainly not in a way that would reflect favorably on Mr. Shah's brand of Islam. Specifically, it is not a defense to this:
Prosecutors said the two men were recorded by a government informer swearing a formal loyalty oath to Al Qaeda. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda.
"Shah committed himself to the path of holy war, to the oath of secrecy, and to abide by the directives of Al Qaeda," according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. "Shah indicated that he understood the oath, and agreed that he would obey the guardians of the oath, namely, Sheikh Osama bin Laden." Dr. Sabir pledged the same oath, the complaint said.
Among the secretly recorded conversations, the complaint said, were ones in which Mr. Shah said that he would like to learn about "chemical stuff" and "explosives and firearms," and told an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as a recruiter for Al Qaeda that he had trained Muslim fighters. And at a meeting in April 2004, the complaint said, he smiled at a girl standing nearby and told the undercover agent, "I could be joking and smiling and then cutting their throats in the next second."
Bias against people who swear loyalty to Al Qaeda . . . I can live with that. Where does this sinister bias lead?
The two cases have caused Muslims to tread carefully in academic settings, two young men said yesterday as they stood in the foyer of the Islamic Cultural Center on East 96th Street.
"In everything we do now we have to be cautious." said Luqman Ellahi, 22, an engineering student who lives on Long Island.
The caution often deters honest debate. Nouman Khan, 27, a professor of Arabic at Nassau Community College, said that he feels "a pressure to not express political opinions, whether it's the war on Iraq or the American Patriot Act."
Well, caution in swearing fealty to the nation's enemies is not necessarily a bad thing. But I do hope that a college professor would see that there is a difference between criticizing the Patriot Act and promising one's services to Osama bin Laden.
I would think it speaks to the character and intent of some who criticize the PATRIOT Act that they do not see a difference between doing so and swearing allegiance to Al-Qaeda.