FBI community mapping and COINTELPRO 2.0

http://michigancitizen.com/fbi-community-mapping-and-cointelpro-p10435-76.htm

FBI community mapping and COINTELPRO 2.0
Published • Sun, Oct 30, 2011
By Dawud Walid

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) recent release of FBI documents showing the federal agency’s mapping and profiling of marginalized groups based on race and religion summons the need for the Obama administration to re-check its commitment to civil rights and deserves a congressional probe into FBI protocols, which facially appear to be unconstitutional.

In December 2008, in the last days of the Bush administration, the FBI issued an internal manual called the Domestic Investigation and Operational Guide (DIOG), which authorized agents to collect information on groups that have “specific and relevant ethnic behavior” for the purpose of analyzing “potential threats and vulnerabilities” to our nation. The DIOG, as a matter of procedure, has allowed the FBI to open threat assessments on people partially predicated upon race and ethnicity despite previous Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance issued in 2003 that prohibited law enforcement from using race in “any degree” to open up investigations except when describing specific subjects of already committed crimes.

Though the ACLU is waiting to procure more documents, the information received has revealed the mapping and profiling of minorities. Such mapping, which is purportedly done in the name of national security, is problematic not only because it implies that our government sanctions prejudice against people of color, but is also a flawed method that is not based upon empirical data for investigating threats. The Detroit field office of the FBI and its intelligence gathering on Muslims gives a primary example of how such activities are not only prejudicial and flawed, but also can have tragic consequences.

Though Muslims have resided in Michigan in significant populations for approximately 100 years and have been overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens not involved in violent extremism, the Detroit field office stated Michigan is “prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment” for terrorists because of its high concentration of Muslims. However, related to domestic terrorism in our nation since 1985, 94 percent of terrorism and planned terrorism attacks were committed by non-Muslims.

The FBI would not foolishly map whites just because white supremacists — many of whom are now part of militia groups — have historically been the greatest purveyors of domestic terrorism and such groups have been on the rise since the election of the United State’s first Black president. Of course, racial mapping of white people would not only not make America any safer, but would be vigorously challenged as discriminatory or “reverse racism.”

Such targeting of minority communities is nothing new for the FBI. It took place during the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, in which minority groups were subjected to broad-brush mapping, infiltration through informants and agent provocateurs and psychological warfare.

The brakes were placed on the original version of COINTELPRO through a Senate committee hearing chaired by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, which investigated the unconstitutional tactics of the FBI. Besides the need for the Obama administration to scale back the DIOG, which actually has now been expanded during his administration, Congress must hold hearings on the training practices of the FBI and their intelligence gathering activities.

As we mark the two-year anniversary of the tragic homicide of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah in Detroit by FBI agents, in which informants infiltrated his mosque without predication of ongoing crime, it is critical that the vast authority given to the FBI to be involved in preemptive intelligence gathering is brought to a halt.

We want the FBI to perform its mission, but not in a prejudicial manner that jeopardizes our privacy and other civil liberties. Say yes to greater transparency and greater trust between the community and the FBI and say no to ethnic and religious profiling and COINTELPRO 2.0.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).

Immoral to not bury Gaddafi as Islam faith requires

Since the publishing of this editorial, unconfirmed reports state that the NTC in Libya buried Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi, 1 of his sons and a close confidant in secret graves in the desert.
***

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/10/24/opinion/doc4ea5ad03dcd10116579262.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Editorial: Immoral to not bury Gaddafi as Islam faith requires
Published: Monday, October 24, 2011

When someone of the Islamic faith dies, it is tradition to bury that person the day of death and, if not possible that day, burial is required by sundown of the next day.

The ghastly show where thousands have passed the decomposing body of Muammar Gaddafi and his son, Mo’tassim, in a meat locker four days after their assassinations is an insult to all souls, a local Islamic leader says.

“It is traditional in Islamic teachings no matter how vile a person is they are to be given their day in court,” said Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Southfield.

He was referring to how mobs in Libya grabbed a wounded Gadaffi and instead of taking him to hospital for treatment summarily killed him with a bullet to the head, according to an autopsy.

“The rebels aren’t concerned about Islamic tradition,” added Walid. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t have shot him when he needed medical care and pleaded for mercy.”

Gaddafi and his son’s body are on display in Misrata, casting a shadow over the nation he ruled for 42 years ago. His rule was defined by bloodshed and repression.

No clear plan for Gaddafi’s burial suggests there is justification for fears of a decent into leadership turmoil and armed fighting in Libya.

One man said he brought his children to see Gaddafi’s body “because this is a chance to see history. We want to see this arrogant person as a lifeless body.”

But Walid suggested this was spiritually wrong.

“(Islamic) tradition says an individual should be buried as soon as possible after death,” he said. Islam holds that a deceased person is supposed to be given respect regardless of their faith traditions.

Walid also said it was disrespectful when Libyans celebrated Gaddafi’s death as was the “party-like” atmosphere in New York City when bin Laden’s slaying was confirmed.

One significant step toward political stability in Libya would be the immediate burial of Gaddafi and his son.

Sermon about Occupy Wall St Movement & the death of Qadhafi

Yesterday’s khutbah was given at the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs mosque in Canton, Michigan about Islam’s position on benevolence and its prohibition of usury in light of the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) movement.

The khutbah also mentioned the recent killing of Qadhafi in Libya and Islam’s standards of showing respect to corpses of believers and non-believers.

Click here to listen.

ACLU report stirs civil rights concerns about FBI’s terrorism monitoring

Last Updated: October 21. 2011 12:42PM

ACLU report stirs civil rights concerns about FBI’s terrorism monitoring
George Hunter/ The Detroit News

Dearborn— Documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union confirm the FBI’s concern about possible terror cells in Michigan, and have reignited the debate over how to balance civil rights with security.

The ACLU on Thursday unveiled its “Mapping the FBI” initiative, which accuses the FBI of racial and ethnic profiling, a claim federal officials dispute.

Arabs locally and nationwide on Friday said they were outraged, but not surprised, by the ACLU report, which claims federal authorities are “mapping American communities around the country based on crude stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes,” according to an ACLU release.

“Nationwide, the FBI is gathering reports on innocent Americans’ so-called ‘suspicious activity’ and sharing it with unknown numbers of federal, state and local government agencies,” the ACLU said in a statement.

As part of the report, the ACLU released a 2009 memo from the FBI’s Detroit field office, which sought permission to collect information about possible terrorist activity in Michigan.

“Because Michigan has a large Middle Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by these terrorist groups,” the memo said.

The memo also outlined the FBI’s concerns about possible “violent terrorist acts within the state of Michigan.”

And the July 6, 2009, memo also noted that terrorist groups have a twisted view of Islam, using “an extreme and violent interpretation of the Muslim faith.” The memo was heavily redacted, and it’s unclear whether the permission sought by Detroit FBI to watch Arabs and Muslims was granted.

The ACLU and Arab leaders say the report proves federal authorities have systematically stepped over the line in their zeal to fight terrorism. But FBI officials say the agency’s mapping is a crucial tool used in the war on terror to target suspicious activity, not particular religious or ethnic groups.

The ACLU based its findings on documents obtained from the FBI through Freedom of Information Act requests made last year through 34 ACLU affiliates. It said the partially redacted documents put on its website show the FBI crossed the line in its assessment of Arab Americans in Michigan, blacks in Georgia, Chinese and Russian-Americans in California and large groups of Hispanic communities in Michigan.

The FBI defended its practices, adding that it “joins the ACLU in opposing racial or ethnic discrimination.”

The federal agency said guidelines from the attorney general’s office and its own Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide prohibit initiating investigative activity based solely on race or ethnicity or on the exercise of First Amendment rights, including freedom of religion.

“Often, though, certain terrorist and criminal groups are comprised of persons primarily from a particular ethnic or geographic community, which must be taken into account when trying to determine if there are threats to the United States,” the FBI said in a statement.

The FBI said the mapping reports it creates “are intended to address specific threats, not particular communities.” It said it uses available government data to locate and better understand communities that are potential threat victims and put resources in those areas.

“To fulfill its national security mission, the FBI cannot simply wait for people to report potential threats,” the FBI said.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he wasn’t surprised by the ACLU report.

“This is nothing new,” Hamad said. “We have been struggling with this issue for many years. This kind of behavior is a violation of a core value of the U.S. Constitution.

“I understand that it’s the FBI’s job to protect the safety of our nation, and we are part of that. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. But if we’re going to truly be partners in this, then you can’t treat us as suspects. You can’t have it both ways — we can’t be a partner and a suspect at the same time.”

The Michigan office of the Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan) released a statement Friday saying it already felt the FBI views the Muslims in Michigan as a “suspect community.”

“To map Arabs and Muslims as suspect communities tells us that the FBI believes that we are predisposed to criminality, which is not only untrue but is also an inaccurate means of investigating crime. These newest revelations as we approach the two-year anniversary of the tragic death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah is but another troubling chapter in how the FBI views and interacts with Michigan Muslims,” said Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR-Michigan.

Abdullah was shot to death during the FBI raid at a Dearborn warehouse in October 2009. The federal complaint that prompted the raid included several charges, including conspiracy to sell stolen goods.

Hassan Jaber, executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services, said profiling doesn’t help fight terrorism.
“Unwarranted surveillance based on racial and ethnic profiling has the opposite effect, creating fear and distance among the targeted communities,” Jaber said in a statement.

Rep Agema’s fake ex-terrorist ‘Kamal Saleem’ exposed

Forum: Saleem challenged by member of the crowd

By Shakil Saghir

After a long and hard debate, I finally decided to attend Kamal Saleem’s Sept. 25 talk at the Midland Center for the Arts. My purpose of attending the talk was to take notes and ask questions during a Q&A session. Because there was no Q&A, I decided to raise my concerns here.

He started his talk with a few sentences of peace and right after that started to describe the importance of Sept. 11 for Muslims, linking it to the Battle of Vienna and revenge, which was news for me — a born Muslim. That was the beginning of his, what I believe, hate speech.

His next claim was “God of the Quran does not love his people”; whereas, at least 11 of 99 attributes (names) of Allah have a meaning of love, compassion, mercy, or peace including Al-Wadood, The Loving. His love is mentioned in the Quran many times including: “And He is oft-forgiving, the Loving (85:14)”. Saleem claimed that Allah wants Muslims to die for Him and says this is the primary reason for the terrorism/ suicide bombing in the world, ignoring the underlying geopolitical reasons and terrorism by non-Muslims, including Christians (remember the Crusades). According to a 2008 Pew poll, only 5 percent of Pakistanis justified suicide bombing, even though Pakistan is the country most affected by the menace. As a Muslim, I was taught that suicide is prohibited in any circumstance, no exception. The Quran specifically says: “O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful (4:29)”. The concept of suicide bombing was alien to Muslims; for example, in Pakistan, the first suicide attack occurred only in the mid- ’90s and none were recorded in Afghanistan until 2002. However, the history of suicide bombing goes back to 1 AD (see, “Dying to Win” by Robert Pape). The Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka (LTTE), a Marxist organization, invented the suicide vests and killed many, including Rajiv Gandhi, then Indian Prime Minister.

Saleem also kept calling Muslims as Moslems, which was weird. As a former believer of the religion he should know the correct pronunciation.

According to Kamal, most of the terrorism and killings in history have been perpetrated by Muslims, which is a fallacy. Ironically, even ignoring earlier historical events such as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the genocide of native North and South Americans and of other native people, most of the killings in the last 100 years have been carried out by non-Muslims (e.g., WWI, WWII, USSR [Stalin], China [Mao], Congo [Leopold II of Belgium], British India [1947]; Cambodia [Pol Pot], North Korea [Kim Il Sung], Ethiopia [Menghistu], Korea, Vietnam, Sri Lanka [LTTE], Gulf, Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, to name a few). A detailed, but not exhaustive, list can be found athttp://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html. The FBI database indicates that attacks by Islamic extremists on U.S. soil comprised only 6 percent during 1980-2005.

He also spent significant time on the concept of Taqiyya and linked it to stealth jihad by saying Muslims are allowed to lie by their religion. Growing up as a Muslim, I only heard this term in reference to Shia religion; however, I never encountered a situation confirming this even with my Shia friends with whom I grew up. The term Taqiyya is a false concept not belonging to the authentic teachings of Islam — I did not find a single entry in Hadith (Sahih Bukhari, the most authentic compilation) or the Quran which can relate to this concept. (I even searched with words: lie, lying, Taqiyya, etc. at http://www.searchtruth.com/). One of the Hadith that I found during my search was “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks he tells a lie; whenever he is entrusted he proves dishonest; whenever he promises he breaks his promise (Book #51, Hadith #12).”

During the Google search, however, I saw “Lying is not permitted except in three cases: (1) a man’s speaking to his wife to make her happy; (2) lying at times of war; (3) and lying in order to reconcile between people. Even though I could not find any Hadith to back this up, if we consider this to be true, it is not different from the teachings of Judaism (e.g., Talmud, Baba Kamma 113a) or Christianity (e.g., 1 Samuel 16 incident), for detail see http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/08/silencing-spencer-taqiyya-and-kitman-are-part-of-judeo-christian-belief/.

Jihad was described as a Holy War (the term itself has come from the Crusades) by Kamal and was explained as the 6th pillar of Islam, obligatory for every Muslim. Jihad is never considered as one of the pillars of Islam by Sunni Muslims, and fighting is only permitted in self defense after exhausting every other option.

And even then, Muslims must follow strict rules of combat including prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees, and livestock. The notion that Islam spread through the sword was emphasized by the speaker — one question I had for him was how did it spread to Indonesia, Malaysia and many other parts of the world where no Muslim soldier ever put his feet? Compulsion in religion is in fact forbidden in the Quran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error (2:256)” and “And neither I am going to worship that which you have worshipped, nor will you worship the One whom I worship. For you is your faith, and for me, my faith (109:4-6).”

Unfortunately he was not open to Q&A. Contrary to Saleem’s assertion that all the verses of love and peace in the Quran came when Muslims were weak (prior to their immigration to Madina) and were abrogated thereafter (after the establishment of Islamic state in Madina), the former verse was revealed in Madina (two years after the immigration) prohibiting Muslims to forcefully converting anyone to Islam, including their own children.

Of course his talk could not be complete without bringing up the fear of Sharia in the U.S. Scholars agree that Muslims living in non-Muslim countries have to comply with laws and regulations of the country where they have been living — this is what I was taught and therefore, I don’t see an issue of Sharia laws taking over our Constitution.

Kamal also kept quoting verses from the Quran (e.g., 5:51, 5:80) out of context and generalizing from them; whereas, those verses were revealed on specific occasions mentioning specific groups of people. He mentioned that slavery is not prohibited in the Quran (it isn’t in the Bible either), which is true; however, he forgot to mention how many times the Quran mentions the importance of freeing slaves; only one of many verses in the Quran should suffice as an answer: “…Righteous are those who believe in God, the last day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous. (2:177).”

Even the POWs were treated with respect by Muslims and subsequently released (e.g., see POWs of the battle of Badr) — a thing never practiced at that time; POWs were either killed or enslaved. This verse also answers his assertion that when Muslims sign a peace treaty it is only valid for 10 years and it has to be broken within that period

I believe he wanted to mention the peace treaty of Hudaybiyya, which was signed between the Muslims of Madina and the polytheists of Mecca for a stipulated period of 10 years but which was broken by the Meccans two years later. He misquoted many other verses which are popular with Islamophobes. Explanations of a few can be read at the following site as I cannot go in detail of all here: http://www.load-islam.com/.

Another topic was the presumed ambitions of Muslims to dominate the world and convert everyone to Islam which can easily be rejected as Muslims ruled India for over 500 years and remained a minority. Similarly, large populations of Christians live in Lebanon (40 percent), Palestine pre-1948 (30 percent) and Egypt (10 percent), to name a few countries. Jews and Christians (always called people of the books in the Quran and never nonbelievers or infidels) and Muslims lived together in peace for millennium; even when Jews were persecuted in Europe, they were safe in Muslim countries. The issues that we currently see are the result of geopolitics (colonization, occupation [Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq], denying freedom by supporting dictators and preventing the liberation [Kashmir, Chechnya]), not religion. More information can be gleaned at: http://www.al-bab.com/arab/background/jews.htm.

Saleem mentioned killing of Jews of Bani Quraiza in Madina after the Battle of Trenches without giving any details. They were guilty of treason by helping Meccans in the battle when they had an agreement to support Muslims and their fate was determined using Jewish laws (Deuteronomy 20:10-18) by one of their former leaders upon their agreeing to his adjudication (read Martin Lings’ book, “Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources.” This is the common punishment of treason even today (Section 110 of Article III states, “…such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States, and shall suffer death …” and this is exactly what happen to Anwar Al-Awlaki recently).

His portrayal of the status of women in Islam was also completely wrong. In order to understand the issue of the treatment of women in Muslim countries, we should separate the religion and the culture. The maltreatment of women by Muslims can always be traced to the cultural practices and never to the teachings of the religion itself. The Quran clearly states that men and women are equal in creation and in the afterlife, but not identical. Both of them are created from a single soul. One person does not come before the other, one is not superior to the other, and one is not the derivative of the other. A woman is not created for the purpose of serving a man. Rather, they are both created for the mutual benefit of each other (Quran 4:1, 30:21).

And before I end, I would like to write summary of my research on Kamal Saleem. He was born in 1957 and according to his claim, he was recruited by the PLO in Beirut, Lebanon when he was 7 years old, that would be 1964 or 1965. This cannot be true as the PLO was founded on May 28, 1964 in the West Bank and had its first armed wing in Southern Lebanon in 1969 and was not deployed to Beirut until the mid 1970s. His claim that he was a member of both the PLO (a socialist organization with Christians as members [e.g., Hanan Ashravi, George Habash]) and the Muslim Brotherhood (an arch rival of the PLO) and that he met Yasir Arafat, Moammar Gadhafi, Hafiz Al-Asad and Saddam Husain is ridiculous.

To further this, I include excerpts from one of the posts I found online which is supposedly from one of his nephews, Mohammad Itani. The real name of Kamal Saleem is Khodor Al Shami. He was a Sufi with Sheikh Rajab who never believed in militancy and the Brotherhood was not in existence in Lebanon during his time there. His Dad, Kamal Shami, was a blacksmith in downtown Beirut. Many of his close friends were Christians and he could not ask his son to kill Christians, as Kamal Saleem claims, while being friends with them. Additionally, Kamal Saleem’s older brother, Mahmound Shami, married a Christian, Madlin Khoury; this gives the lie to his claim that his mother and father taught him to hate and kill non-Muslims. He used to work with his brother and never handled a gun. Before his coming to the U.S., he worked in the Persian Gulf where he was introduced a man who helped him come to the U.S. As to his time in Afghanistan, he was actually living in the U.S. and had regular phone contact with his family. It is all about fame and fortune.

This sounds right, since just before ending his talk he started selling his and similar books, videos and CDs including interpretations of the Quran for Christians (Snake oil salesmanship!). I hope the audience will choose to go to the original sources and not fall into his trap and see the world through his eyes.

Shakil Shagir is a Midland resident.

U.S.-born terror suspects deserve legal due process and open trials

http://detnews.com/article/20111012/OPINION01/110120313/U.S.-born-terror-suspects-deserve-legal-due-process-and-open-trials

Last Updated: October 12. 2011 1:00AM

U.S.-born terror suspects deserve legal due process and open trials

Dawud Walid

 

The recent extrajudicial executions of two American citizens in Yemen is the latest and most troubling in a series of incidents that reflect the steady erosion of the United States Constitution under the Obama administration.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were citizens that advocated violence against fellow Americans, were deservedly on the radars of the CIA and FBI. Moreover, al-Awlaki clearly inspired Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit. And although al-Awlaki and Khan both projected a despicable message over the Internet, which I condemned in Metro Detroit mosques as well as online, I am extremely troubled by the undermining of the Constitution regarding their extrajudicial assassinations.

The facts are that al-Awlaki and Khan were never indicted, much less convicted, of any terrorism related crimes, were never formally requested to turn themselves in to the nearest United States embassy, nor were they actively engaged on a battlefield when they were executed via drone attack.

The Obama administration contends that it had the legal right to kill these two Americans through an executive order without providing evidence to the public because such evidence is a “state secret.” In addition, the administration killed them through the consultation of a secretive death panel in which there is no law establishing its existence or rules nor is there any public record of its operational procedures to conclude that any American is worthy of death without a trial.

If the same scenario were presented to the public without mentioning the name of the administration, many might conclude that this is the process of taking someone out in China or North Korea, not America.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution clearly articulates no person shall answer for a capital crime without having been indicted by a grand jury to then face charges against them.

After being charged, the Sixth Amendment provides persons with the right to be informed of the nature of criminal accusations in which they can confront the evidence against them. Regarding al-Awlaki and Khan’s executions, the Fifh and the Sixth Amendments were completely circumvented.

Mr. Obama, who was formerly a constitutional law professor, ran on a platform of transparency and the re-establishment of law and order after revelations were made public of tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. However, his ordering extrajudicial killings of citizens without any charges being levied and zero transparency of the process for them being added to a hit list goes far beyond policies of the Bush administration. The current extrajudicial killing policy is both a threat to the spirit of the Constitution and our national security.

GOP presidential hopeful and former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson articulated the disturbing precedent that has now been established regarding al-Awlaki’s execution when he stated, “He was a U.S. citizen, and never before have we targeted a U.S. citizen for death.” If we as a nation compromise the Constitution for so-called good exceptions like extremists al-Awlaki and Khan, we truly do not know who this president and those to come will add to the hit list since there is no transparency in the process.

Our Founding Fathers foresaw this danger by conveying that Americans should be charged with crimes and have the ability to challenge evidence against them in a court of law.

The killings of al-Awlaki and Khan play right into the narrative of al-Qaida that America practices political hypocrisy by criticizing certain nations and people for certain behaviors then practices it herself.

While we confront adversaries from within and without that seek to harm us as a nation, our Executive Branch must exhibit and uphold the ethical standards set forth in the Constitution, which is one of the best weapons that we have in defeating the perverse ideology of al-Qaida.

Dawud Walid is CAIR-MI executive director.

Condemning ‘Underwear Bomber’ comments about Al-Qur’an

http://www.detnews.com/article/20111013/METRO/110130404/1409/Nigerian-pleads-guilty-to-attempted-plane-bombing

Nigerian pleads guilty to attempted plane bombing

Al-Qaida operative tells court he wanted to avenge U.S. killings of Muslims abroad

Robert Snell and George Hunter/ The Detroit News

Detroit Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane to avenge the killing of Muslims worldwide by the United States, an admission following a surprise guilty plea Wednesday in a high-profile terrorism case.

The guilty plea and a threatening rant against the United States abruptly halted the second day of the “underwear bomber’s” trial in federal court and came almost two years after he tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009.

He pleaded guilty to eight charges, including attempted murder, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. The 25-year-old Nigerian and self-described al-Qaida operative faces up to life in prison when sentenced Jan. 12.

Abdulmutallab said the bomb was a “blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims” and that he wanted to retaliate against the United States for its support of Israel.

“Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Quran,” Abdulmutallab told the judge, reading from a hand-written statement.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, on Wednesday said Abdulmutallab has a perverse understanding of the Quran.

“The Quran clearly states whoever kills an innocent soul has committed an act like murdering all of humanity, and the Quran commands Muslims not to kill themselves,” Walid said.

“Abdulmutallab’s failed attack meant to kill innocent people as well as himself, which are clear violations of the Quran.”

Abdulmutallab did not negotiate any deal with the government, and legal experts expect he will spend the rest of his life in the nation’s only Supermax prison, which is in Colorado and dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” That’s where several high-profile terrorists and inmates are incarcerated, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Plea marks major victory

Abdulmutallab was on trial for a crime conceived in Yemen, where he was trained by al-Qaida operatives. It was a crime hailed by slain terror leader Osama bin Laden and inspired by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who investigators say helped radicalize Abdulmutallab, transforming him from a privileged graduate school student into an international terrorist.

The failed bombing exposed gaps in airport security after prosecutors say Abdulmutallab managed to board the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with the device, an act that led to stiffer security measures nationwide.

The guilty plea marked a major victory against terrorism for the U.S. Justice Department.

“Fighting terrorism is the No. 1 priority of the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. “We understand our deep responsibility to the American people to prevent terrorism. It’s what keeps us up at night, and we’re so glad this defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

The plea revived criticism from those who believe Abdulmutallab should have been tried in military court.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Twp., pointed to the expense in prosecuting Abdulmutallab and fears expressed by potential jurors as reasons why he shouldn’t have been tried in a civilian court. Miller said the trial gave Abdulmutallab a platform to spew hatred.

She called the guilty plea “a rare outbreak of common sense.”

McQuade defended the approach. “We got a chance to show the world that our system of justice works,” she said.

Jurors declined to talk to the media about the case or the guilty plea.

Unexpected end to trial

Passenger Dimitrious Bessis welcomed an end to the terror case.

A Georgia resident who sat two rows behind Abdulmutallab on the plane, Bessis, 47, tried to put out the fire with a Brooks Brothers hat his father gave him.

“I have nightmares about what happened,” he said, “but it’s over with, thank God.”

The plea was unexpected and ended a criminal trial filled with unexpected outbursts by Abdulmutallab.

He fired court-appointed lawyers last year. During court hearings, he propped a foot on the defense table and shouted that bin Laden and al-Awlaki were alive. He called the United States “a cancer.”

The plea came against the advice of his legal adviser, Detroit lawyer Anthony Chambers.

Chambers was disappointed by the plea.

“It’s like a fighter who prepared for a 10-round fight and then it got canceled,” Chambers said.

Abdulmutallab started discussing a guilty plea privately Tuesday with Chambers during a break in the trial.

The trial continued anyway with prosecutors delivering an opening statement and putting one witness on the stand, a passenger from Wisconsin who saw Abdulmutallab enveloped in flames.

Jurors excused

The trial resumed Wednesday, but the judge quickly called a recess before jurors entered the courtroom. Approximately one hour later, Abdulmutallab returned to the courtroom and pleaded guilty.

“I believe he is a misguided, impressionable young man, as many college students are,” Chambers said. “And I think he had something he wanted to say.”

Chambers said he believes he could have won the case.

“I thought the evidence was lacking,” the attorney said.

Chambers pointed to incriminating statements Abdulmutallab made to federal agents and a nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital following the attack.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said national security fears justified agents not reading Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights, but the issue could have been appealed following the trial.

After the trial turned into a plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel asked Abdulmutallab if he carried an explosive device on board.

“If you say so,” said Abdulmutallab, dressed in a dark sport coat and a long khaki-colored dashiki that flowed to his ankles.

“You knew it was an explosive, correct?” Tukel asked him.

“Yes,” he answered.

“It was intended to explode?” Tukel asked him.

“Yes,” Abdulmutallab answered.

Afterward, Abdulmutallab railed against the United States.

“The United States should be warned,” he said. “If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later in this life and at the day of judgment.”

He shouted “Allahu Akbar (God is great)!” before being handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by a deputy U.S. Marshal.

The judge then called jurors into the courtroom, announced the plea and excused them.

Jurors filed out one by one, the jury room door closing behind them.

From behind that door, a cheer erupted, the sound carrying into the judge’s courtroom.

The judge laughed.

***

http://www.freep.com/article/20111013/NEWS06/110130494

Underwear bomber pleads guilty in surprise move

BY DAVID ASHENFELTER AND TRESA BALDAS

DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

After his underwear bomb fizzled on an overseas flight to Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab couldn’t wait to tell everyone he was on a mission from al-Qaida.

In a surprise move on Wednesday, the second day of his federal terrorism trial in Detroit, he told a judge.

“In late 2009, in fulfillment of a religious obligation, I decided to participate in jihad against the United States,” the 25-year-old Nigerian student-turned-extremist told U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds upon pleading guilty to eight charges that will send him to prison for life.

“Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam,” Abdulmutallab said in fluent English.

Abdulmutallab, who pleaded guilty against the advice of his lawyer, said he wanted to blow up the plane carrying nearly 300 people in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and the killing of “innocent Muslims” in Israel, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

He said he was guilty under U.S. law, but not Muslim law. He warned that a “great calamity” will befall the U.S. if it continues on its course.

“If you laugh at us now,” he warned, “we will laugh at you later.”

Guilty plea doesn’t shock everyone

From the beginning, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he never wanted a lawyer.

And on Wednesday, on the second day of his internationally watched terrorism trial in Detroit, he ignored his lawyer’s advice and pleaded guilty to everything federal prosecutors said he did.

“I’m disappointed,” Abdulmutallab’s standby lawyer, Anthony Chambers, said after the two-hour drama played out in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

“I would never, ever advise a client to plead guilty to life without parole — under any circumstances,” Chambers added, noting that Abdulmutallab had been considering the move since his trial opened Tuesday.

“Nothing the government did brought this decision about,” Chambers said. “He’s at peace with his decision. He’s very understanding of his consequences. … He wanted to make a statement, and he did.”

Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner with a bomb concealed in his underwear on Dec. 25, 2009, at the behest of al-Qaida. Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate the bomb over Woodhaven, used the plea as a platform to rail against U.S. treatment of Muslims worldwide.

Although court observers were stunned by Abdulmutallab’s decision, some legal experts said they expected nothing less from the self-professed jihadist.

“You have to remember, these people are willing to die,” said Seattle attorney Charlie Swift, who has represented terrorism defendants, including Osama bin Laden’s former driver. “The political statement to them is far more important than any potential they might have to escape punishment.”

Swift added: “To plead not guilty is to say, ‘I’m not a martyr. I’m not a hero. I never planned to do those things.’ For those individuals, it’s unthinkable.”

Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to eight counts, including conspiring to commit an act of terrorism, use of a weapon of mass destruction and carrying a firearm or destructive device during a crime of violence — the latter carries a mandatory life sentence.

Chambers said he likely would serve his sentence at the federal super-max prison in Florence, Colo., where other convicted terrorists are serving their time. Edmunds set his sentencing for Jan. 12.

At a news conference Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said the guilty plea proves that civilian courts “are an appropriate tool for bringing terrorists to justice.”

“We got a chance to show the world that our system of justice works,” McQuade said.

Her boss, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, agreed.

“Today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan, said Abdulmutallab has a distorted view of the Quran.

“His actions and speech are antithetical to how 99.99% of Muslims worldwide understand the Quran,” he said. “The Quran says whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if they have killed all of mankind.”

He also noted that the Quran doesn’t condone suicide.

John Freeman, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit, said the guilty plea probably came as a relief to prosecutors, despite compelling evidence.

“Anytime you put a case in front of a jury, there always are risks,” Freeman said. “I’ve seen plenty of cases where you were expecting a certain result and the jury surprised everyone in the courtroom.”

Detroit FBI chief Andrew Arena said he was surprised by Abdulmutallab’s plea.

“I didn’t see this one coming, guys. I got to tell you, I was shocked,” Arena said at the news conference, praising federal law enforcement’s handling of the case.

Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor, said there’s little chance Edmunds will allow Abdulmutallab to withdraw his guilty plea, given the lengths she took to make sure he knew what he was doing.

Henning said Abdulmutallab will get another chance to get on a soapbox at sentencing.

After that, Henning said: “We’ll never hear from him again.”

During his guilty plea, Abdulmutallab said he was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born al-Qaida leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on Sept. 30.

During his plea, Abdulmutallab gave an abbreviated account of the journey that brought him to Detroit.

He said he started in Yemen, then traveled to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, the Netherlands — where he boarded Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam — and the U.S.

Prosecutors had strong evidence: a planeload of witnesses, burns on Abdulmutallab’s genitals and thigh, remnants of his underwear and the bomb. They also had Adbulmutallab’s statements to passengers, flight crew and federal agents that he was on a mission from al-Qaida to blow up an American jetliner over U.S. soil.

Among the government’s trial witnesses was passenger Dimitrios Bessis, who was returning home to Georgia after visiting his ailing father in Greece.

Bessis was seated two rows behind Abdulmutallab and was one of the first passengers to try to put out the fire — with a Brooks Brothers hat passed down from his grandfather — caused by the malfunctioning bomb.

“I felt terror, fear, anger,” Bessis said, adding that he’s glad the trial is over.

“I know that he knows he was wrong,” Bessis added. “Maybe the good Lord did get into his heart.”