Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam. Wars rage abroad. At home, innocent victims are wrongfully charged, prosecuted, convicted by intimidated and pressured juries, and imprisoned.
Ziyad's one of many hundreds serving long prison terms in America's gulag. His crime is being Muslim in America at the wrong time.
On July 27, 2009, dozens of heavily armed Swat and hostage rescue team members arrested seven North Carolina men on terrorist-related charges.
A same day Justice Department press release cited Daniel Patrick Boyd, his two sons, Zakariya and Dylan, Hysen Sherifi, Anes Subasic, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, and Ziyad Yaghi.
Charges claimed "conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, main and injure persons abroad," despite no plot, no crime, or intention to commit one.
Allegations only were provided. Precise details were omitted. Spurious accusations also suggested wanting to attack US Marines at Quantico, VA.
Earlier on July 22, a federal grand jury indictment listed seven counts. They included:
- conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists;
- conspiracy to murder, kidnap, main, and injure persons in a foreign country;
- receiving a firearm through interstate commerce;
- possession of a firearm to be used for a crime of violence;
- selling or otherwise disposing of a firearm and ammunition to a person knowing and having reasonable cause to believe was convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;" and
- two counts of false statements.
At the time, US Attorney George EB Holding said:
"These charges hammer home the point that terrorists and their supporters are not confined to the remote regions of some far away land but can grow and fester right her at home."
"Terrorists and their supporters are relentless and constant in their efforts to hurt and kill innocent people across the globe. We must be equally relentless and constant in our efforts to stop them."
On July 27, however, Department of Justice (DOJ) officials said the men weren't serious threats to US domestic or foreign interests. No evidence suggested ties to Al Qaeda or other militant groups.
Nonetheless, Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano hyped "proof" of "homegrown terrorism."
Ziyad's a 24-year old Palestinian American citizen. Family and friends call him kind, gentle, caring, and respectful of others. According to DOJ and DHS officials, he's guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Allegations claimed foreign travel connected jihad. No evidence whatever proved it. Ziyad was born in Jordan. In October 2006, he returned to visit family. Officials called it part of a terror plot.
In June 2007, he traveled to Israel but was denied entry. He wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It's Islam's third holiest site after Mecca's Sacred Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina.
Charges allege his Jordanian and Israeli travel related to planned jihad. According to his mother Laila:
Soon after returning home, "the FBI was knocking on my door and asking me questions. When Ziyad and his friend came back, they were constantly harassed and watched by the FBI."
Before visiting Jordan, he and a travel companion "knew a specific person of interest to the FBI for a short while."
When they returned, they "had no contact with this person." Nonetheless, "the FBI continued to harass my son and his friend and they tried to pressure them to say something, even though Ziyad and his friend had nothing to say."
"Both boys insisted that they didn’t know anything personal about the person the FBI was conducting an investigation on and couldn’t understand what the FBI was looking for!"
"Two years later, a simple fight broke between the boys and one of the friends of Ziyad. The FBI made it sound so horrendous and tried to charge Ziyad and his friend with many things and threw them in jail."
"The FBI came once more to my door and asked me more questions, and then one of them told me that he wants the boys in jail because he wants them to feel more pressured to tell them something about the individual the FBI have been inquiring about earlier."
"Again that same name was mentioned and the boys stayed in jail almost four months, and when the FBI found that there is nothing against (them) that could prove what they were looking for, my son and his friend were released."
Laila maintains the Free Zihad Yaghi site. On April 11, 2012, she headlined "How I suffer," saying:
"Nobody knows how much this hurts!!! Nobody knows that everyday I cannot sleep and if I do, it is only minutes and I am awakened by nightmares!! Why would my own country do this to my son and I?"
"Why would they take an innocent young man and put him in jail? I know that prosecutors and Judges need cases to make money but come on now!! They don't have to go to this extent and fabricate things just to make money and cause innocent people so much grief!"
"Everyday I spend hours on the computer trying to find someone that might be able to help my son! Every day I pray for hours that my son will be released soon and back in my arms!"
"Every day I pray for the truth to come out and for all the people who caused me this for them to wake up and have a conscious!"
"My son is in constant (isolated) lock down in a room probably the size of your bathroom! Where is justice? Where is humanity? Where are the people with conscience?"
"My tears are stuck constantly in my throat and I try to suppress them especially when I am at work! My life is on pause now because I cannot function properly!
This is barbaric!"
A personal note. In mid-May, Laila, Lynne Jackson, and I met in Chicago. Laila's a grieving mother. Her pain is poignant and palpable. She wonders when she'll be able to embrace her son free.
Lynne's a Project SALAM volunteer. It provides support and legal advocacy for persecuted Muslims.
It explains how innocent victims like Ziyad are framed and imprisoned. Paid agent provocateur informants entrap unwary targets. Secret evidence unavailable to defense attorneys convicts them.
Government paid bogus experts lie. False testimony given is inflammatory. Credible defense witnesses are ruled out of order and denied.
Pre-trial publicity hypes spurious terror threats. Media scoundrels headline them. Juries are intimidated to convict. Right-wing judges facilitate witch-hunt injustice. Targeted Muslims haven't a chance. Guilty by accusation imprisons them.
Ziyad got 31.5 years hard time for visiting family members in Jordan. Perhaps also for wanting to pray at Islam's third holiest site. American justice calls this terrorism or conspiracy to commit it.
Falsified reports say another terror plot was foiled. Family, friends and supporters know an innocent young man was wrongfully convicted. A grieving mother joins many others. Why, they ask? How can a nation claiming democratic credentials put innocent people in prison?
Project SALAM maintains information on many persecuted Muslims. Ziyad's among them. Friends and supporters can write him at:
Federal Correctional Complex-USP-2
PO Box 1034
Coleman, FL 33521-0879
USP Coleman is a high security federal facility for male prisoners. Imagine kind and gentle innocent victims sent there.
Imagine 31.5 years hard time for praying to the wrong God.
Imagine a nation pledging "liberty and justice for all" convicting for that reason.
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