Thursday, January 25, 2007

Entrapped "Terrorist" Matin Siraj To Appeal Conviction And Sentence

The legal saga of entrapped "terrorist" Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was sentenced to thirty years in prison for saying whatever his "best friend" led him to say, may not yet be over.

Not if his attorney, Martin Stolar, has anything to say about it, anyway.

According to Court Docs dot KRKeenan dot com, an appeal has already been filed, against both the conviction and the sentence:
The lawyer for Shahawar Matin Siraj, the man convicted for plotting to blow-up the Herald Square subway station, filed a notice of appeal the day after his case, though his sentencing has been overshadowed by the arrest of his family.
The other three members of the Siraj family were arrested by federal immigration officials early in the morning -- or in the middle of the night, really -- just hours after Matin's sentence was handed down.
Neigbors and friends of the Siraj family are calling for their release, calling the Immigration and Customs Enforcement action heavy-handed and discriminatory.
That's kind of them. I would use much harsher language, if anyone were so foolish as to ask me.
Before the sentencing, Matin’s lawyers filed letters and documents from friends and family members describing him as a simple-minded young man who was manipulated by his best friend Osama Eldawoody, the main witness in the case and a paid informant.
Let's put that phrase best friend in quotes, shall we? Osama Eldawoody was certainly no friend to Matin Siraj. None of this would have happened had not Matin mistakenly thought Eldawoody was his friend.
A letter filed by Matin’s lawyer Martin R. Stolar described Eldawoody as an Egyptian Sunni muslim who introduced Matin to the concept of using violence as a form of jihad.
“While acknowledging the jury’s verdict, it is apparent that confidential informant Eldawoody spent countless hours alone with Matin creating a deep emotional bond between the two. Eldawoody frequently drove Matin home to Queens from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, using the time alone to teach Matin about the Koran and the Hadiths, or teachings of the Prophet Muhammed. Because Matin came from the shi’a Ishmaeli sect of Islam - a sect considered apostate or un-Islamic by many “mainstream” Sunni Muslims, Eldawoody spent a significant amount of time teaching Mr. Matin about Islam as understood by Eldawoody, an Egyptian Sunni whose father was an Islamic scholar. In his efforts to encourage Matin to join and stay involved in the conspiracy, Eldawoody taught Matin that Islam and jihad embraced violent concepts such as “kill the killers” and that American soldiers in the Middle East are “killers.”
Matin was not intellectually capable of executing the plot he was convicted of, according to his lawyers. He participated in the scheme to win approval from Eldawoody, whom he sought to please, they wrote. The defense lawyers argued that Matin was far from a terrorist and simply a misguided youth.
Exactly. A misguided none-too-bright young man led astray by a professional, a slick and practiced master of the entrapment game. It's everywhere. All of a sudden because of the so-called War On Terror, young, simple Muslim men are getting conned into saying they'd do things that they would never do, much less think of. And then it turns out their "best friend" was wearing a wire, and they're going to prison for a long, long time. For nothing!
“There was no loss of life, no damage to property, and no criminal organization of which the defendant was a member. Further, the defendant himself is not a dangerous psychopath, but more of a confused and misguided youngster,” according to the defense counsel’s letter. “In fact, given the legitimate basis of the (rejected) entrapment defense, it may well be that an overly lengthy sentence would not promote respect because it would flag the government’s conduct in helping to create the crime only to claim a victory in the ”war on terror,” and not to ferret out those who may be genuinely engaged in such conduct.”
Yes and No on this one. Definitely it is true that the government by creating and then solving a crime can claim a victory (however small) in the "war on terror", but I do not agree that this is the only reason behind these entrapment-sting operations.

Such operations promote the myth that terror sleeper cells are everywhere throughout America. They feed into the War on Muslims, and thus they lend support to wars against Iraq and Afghanistan (and Iran next, and perhaps others "just around the corner"). They provide useful though implausible pretexts for the gutting of the Bill Of Rights, the general shredding of our Constitution, and the loss of all our legal protection against tyranny.

The timing is always politically convenient. Matin Siraj was arrested on August 27, 2004. Why then? Put it this way: It wasn't Matin's idea to get arrested! The Republican National Convention was opening in NYC on the 30th.

By the summer of 2004, a large and growing percentage of New Yorkers understood that 9/11 and Truth could be found together but not in any official capacity, and they had become increasingly angry -- and increasingly vocal -- about the fact that the Republicans were holding their quadrennial national party in the heart of the city they had allowed to be attacked.

Many very angry people felt that the Republicans were using the wreckage of Ground Zero as a political prop, saying to America "Vote For US, because we can make sure nothing like this ever happens again!"

It was (and continues to be) the most grotesque protection racket in the sorry history of mankind. For some reason the key question, the only relevant question -- never arose: "If you -- Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice -- if you are so interested in protecting us, why did you allow us to be attacked in the first place?"

And feelings on the streets of NY were getting more and more along the lines of "How DARE you Republicans party in the city you allowed to be attacked?" 'Twas a heartbreaking question to be sure.

But then all of a sudden Matin Siraj was arrested and the Yellow Elephants swept into town and instead of "How dare you party here?" the tables were turned and the elephants were able to stare down the truth-tellers and huff, "How dare YOU protest against our tough response to terror, when there are terrorists among you?
Stolar argued before sentencing that Matin’s prison term should not exceed 10 years.
Insanity! Matin Siraj should not be going to prison at all! And his family should certainly be released immediately!!

Perhaps some people would argue that Osama Eldawoody's sentence should not exceed 10 years, but I would argue for the whole thirty!.

Good luck to Martin Stolnar and Matin Siraj with the appeal, and best wishes to the entire Siraj family. May truth, justice, and the virtue formerly known as "the American way" triumph in this case, for once. Please.


See also: Becky Akers with Scott Horton on AntiWar Radio | Becky Akers: When The Devil Creates A Devil | Martin Stolar with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! | Previous posts on this subject


fourth in a series