Matin Siraj, a simple-minded and malleable Pakistani-born Muslim, became one of the targets of a so-called undercover confidential informant working with the New York Police Department. In truth, the informant was an agent-provocateur entwined with both the NYPD and federal anti-terrorism authorities. The provocateur planted the suggestion, and then proceeded to encouraged Matin (along with another gullible young brother) to TALK about taking terrorist measures against innocent New Yorkers, for the crimes against humanity being orchestrated by their government against Muslims overseas.And I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. I'd even settle for one end of a phone call:
This middle-aged Egyptian provocateur befriended the shy young brother; he would visit the store where Matin worked (two doors from the neighborhood masjid) and sometimes give him a ride home at night, all the while planting the idea in his head that something needed to be done to avenge the suffering of Muslims here and abroad. As Matin gradually came around to his friend’s line of thinking, and began to articulate more himself, unbeknownst to him, this “friend” was wearing a wire (a recording device).
One day the provocateur suggested that they plan an attack at one of the New York City subway lines. On the day that he drove Matin and the other young brother to the station, with instructions for them to go down and draw a sketch of the subway’s interior, a police surveillance vehicle captured their entrance and exit from the subway on video.
Shortly thereafter, on the eve of the 2004 Republican Convention [...] the two dumbfounded conspirators were arrested [...]
Was Matin a serious threat? You be the judge. Among the many verbal exchanges that ensued between this young man and his confidential informant friend, was one wherein Matin attempted to back out of the alleged conspiracy, telling the “informant” he needed to get permission from his mother first.
Hi Mom, It's me! Say, I just wanted to check with you: Is it all right if me and a couple of my friends blow up a subway station?
What? What's that? Well then ask Dad for me, will you? It's kind of important!
I make jokes to relieve the monotony of bad news all the time, but of course this is very serious stuff.
Despite all of this Matin went to trial (hoping to prove entrapment) and was found guilty as charged. A few weeks ago this 24 year old young Muslim was given a 30 YEAR SENTENCE! But the nightmare doesn’t stop there.And as regular readers of this space will remember, early in the morning of the day following the sentencing, the mother, father and sister of Matin Siraj were arrested!
Was it because they were saying "entrapment" as often and as loudly as possible? Or had they simply overstayed their visas? As I pointed out at the time, thousands of people overstay their visas without getting arrested in the middle of the night.
Matin's sister and mother are out on bond now (having posted an exorbitant $35K bail) but his father remains in detention (with nary a hearing on the schedule, unless I am remiss in my research). And in the meantime, they wait.
Matin Siraj's mother talks about the effect on their family:
I am devastated that my husband is still detained. His health and hearing are very weak, and I know he will perish in prison if they continue holding him. We cannot survive without him, financially. Is it a win in the “war on terror” to starve and demolish a family? We don’t know what we’ll do if my husband is deported to Pakistan; we cannot survive in the U.S. alone, but we must stay to seek justice for our son and to fight this political attack on our family. How can a mother bear the thought of leaving her son to perish alone in prison for 30 years? We are in an impossible situation.”Fortunately their plight has not gone altogether unnoticed.
A Siraj Family Support Fund has been established by DRUM. For more information visit www.drumnation.org.There's plenty to be learned from this very sad story, even in this shortened form.
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan continues:
This is what can happen when young Muslims are careless and irresponsible in their rhetoric and associations. When grave mistakes in judgment are made, they don’t just affect YOU – they can have a ripple effect throughout your family and non-familial associations.I couldn't have said it as well myself. In fact I couldn't have said it at all.
If someone approaches you with talk about the need to wage violent jihad anywhere in the West, he (or she) is either one of two things: (a) a caring Muslim who has lost his sense of balance; or (b) a munafiq (hypocrite) and/or an agent-provocateur trying to set you up! Either way this individual should be avoided like the plague - and he or she should be brought to the attention of other committed leaders or elders within the community.
Please also read the comment from malangbaba [excerpts provided below are slightly edited for clarity and a touch of emphasis has been added]:
The informant’s name is Osama El-Dawoody. He was paid $100K for this Job. He was promised much more: witness protection, employment, more money. But The Devil always deals dirty. Dawoody wrote a letter [to] Sen. Clinton a few months back complaining that he had been promised all these things in return for successfully finishing the case, Which he did, and the promises were reneged upon. He got no response. Such is the fate of those who sell themselves, their brothers and sisters, and their religion for a small price.For the last word, let us turn once again to El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan:
- This was a part of an NYPD operation. Behind all of this is massive funding for a counter-terrorism program within NYPD, and where there is funding, there must be results produced. Or even created.
- The informant worked with Matin for one year. The first eight months was where he tried to inflame Matin. By showing him pictures, videos, and websites showing the death, rape, and torture of men, women, and children in Iraq. Oddly enough, the government says there are no tapes of these first eight months. How convenient…
- There were multiple attempts by Matin to resist or back out of the plan. Including the statement that he would have to get the permission of his mother. At several point[s], Dawoody also threatened Matin that if he didn’t comply with the plan that his family would face the consequences.
- Hajji Mauri makes the most important point at the end that while we must we be careful of what we say, but that should not deter us from our moral responsibility to speak the truth, and tell it like it is. Silence not only morally implicates us in the oppression, it is also tactically to the advantage of the oppressors to continue their plans, and it offer no protection for our communities.
- This example of a War at Home (against Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, immigrants) is part and parcel of the War Abroad. The two cannot be de-linked, and this is a tried and tested strategy throughout history. WWI and the Japanese, 80s and the US involvement in Central America, etc etc. The war at home not only serves to intimidate and silence the very communities against whom war is being waged upon (namely Muslims), but it also provide the fuel for creating the hysteria against Muslims to justify and legitimize the war abroad. And far from ‘public’ hate-crimes, it is this state-sponsored violence that is the biggest source of violence and oppression against Muslims here in the US.
- Lastly, I would like to point out that many of mainstream Muslim organizations are themselves responsible for the creation of informants and infiltrators in the community through inviting and cooperating with the FBI/police/Homeland Security. In the 50-70s, the African American, Latino, Indigenous, and other oppressed communities were infiltrated through the COINTELPRO programs. The program was covert and highly secretive until it was exposed. However, now, we have the same program and same tactics that are not only being done publicly and openly, but are being done with the cooperation of the community leadership itself. All of these informants were created through such ‘community relations’ programs that the various enforcement agencies have run in Muslim communities.
There are millions of deeply committed and compassionate people in this country, representing many different creeds, colors and political persuasions. Our most important jihad (in this part of the world) is getting the clear message of what Islam truly represents to these people, being a good example for them, and forming coalitions for positive change.and so on. Please read it!
Our second most important jihad is to muster the intestinal fortitude as a COMMUNITY to speak truth to power! As our Prophet (pbuh) has said:
“When you see an evil action you must change it with your hand; if you cannot do so, with your tongue; if you cannot do so, detest it with your heart – and that is the weakest of faith.”
“One of the greatest jihads is to speak truth to a caliph (governing authority) who has deviated from the right way.”
sixth in a series