Justice: 2, War on the Innocent: 0
Another win today for the American justice system: jurors found Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar and Muhammad Salah not guilty of charges the US government brought against them in 2004 claiming they were tied to terrorism. Accused of funneling money to the Palestinian group HAMAS, a designated terrorist organization by the US, the two men had maintained that they had only provided money to fund social and humanitarian services for their fellow Palestinians. After a 3 month hearing, and two weeks deliberating, the 12 jurors proved once again that there is hope for truth and justice to be upheld in the United States, no matter how elusive they may seem these days.
These men and women were smart enough to see through the misrepresentation of Ashqar and Salah's actions by the government prosecutors who went as far as claiming they were responsible for the death of an American teenager who was killed by a suicide bombing in Israel. The government tried to convince the jurors by calling Israeli agents to testify against the two men. These were the same agents that knew that Mr. Salah was severely tortured in Israeli prisons to the point where he confessed to anything they told him to. They heard that the FBI had wanted to ask Dr. Ashqar to become an informant for them, indicating that they did not deem him a terrorist threat. The inconsistencies and lack of concrete evidence against the men was detected by the jury which in the end returned a not guilty verdict on the major changes.
This verdict comes as a major blow to the "Justice" Department's efforts at trying so-called terrorists. More than a year ago, a jury similarly acquitted Dr. Sami Al-Arian of charges that he was funneling money to Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian group on the US terror list. I wrote several posts about Dr. Al-Arian's case, who is still in jail today despite being acquitted by the jury in his trial. Unfortunately, the US government is going after minor charges and attempting to find ways just to keep him jail. He has been on a hunger strike protesting his detainment for 11 days so far (more about his case).
My faith in the American judicial system has not been completely restored, because cases like these should not have been brought to surface in the first place. Dr. Ashqar and Dr. Al-Arian have been wronged, and not even an acquittal can alleviate the suffering their families have endured for years and the emotional pain of being wrongly charged and incarcerated. The Muslim and Arab communities from which these individuals come in Virginia and Florida, respectfully, have also endured a heavy toll, being portrayed as supporters of terrorists and consistently targeted for simply practicing their rights as citizens of this country.
I would love to see that smirk on your face once again, Mr. Ashcroft, as you were so proud when you announced their indictment more than two years ago. Please, don't be disappointed now that the American people have, unlike you, chosen truth and justice above all else.
Thank you to the jurors who took their responsibility seriously and did their job by scrutinizing the evidence and showing the public that such cases are indeed nothing but witch hunts against the innocent men and women who dare to speak out against the injustices inflicted upon their Palestinian brethren. I hope the judge will follow suit and not allow these men to suffer anymore than they already have. Two points for justice, none for the War on the Innocent.
It is also worth noting that most major media networks did not headline the verdict. In previous cases where similar charges were brought forth, and the jury returned convictions, the verdicts made headlines within minutes of the news. When their indictments were announced, every major news station dedicated the first reports to images of Ashcroft reading the charges. Had these men been found guilty, I assure you that CNN, Fox, CBS, and every other online, print, and tv media outlet would have emphasized the news beyond imagination. I waited to see if anything would make the CBS or ABC evening news reports, and my suspicions were confirmed. The verdict did not make it to the CNN homepage either, but was buried in the "law" section. If THIS is the type of media you rely on, you'd better think twice before tuning in again.
Federal Jury Acquits Two Men of Terror Charges for Hamas Links
US Jury Acquits Two Men of Hamas Conspiracy
American Muslims Call Al-Arian Imprisonment 'Double Jeopardy'
Free Sami Al-Arian website
Free Dr. Ashqar website