[act-ma] "The case of Tarek Mehanna: Imprisoned for refusing to inform" | SW.org

Keith Rosenthal keithmr81 at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 15 07:39:04 PDT 2010


View original article here:

http://socialistworker.org/2010/06/15/jailed-for-refusing-to-inform

IMPRISONED FOR REFUSING TO INFORM 


Safia Albaiti reports on the 
case of Tarek Mehanna, an Egyptian American who  
has spent months in
 solitary confinement on trumped-up charges.

June 15, 2010

IN
 A cell approximately 20 feet long and 15 feet wide, in a maximum 
security  
prison at the Plymouth Correctional facility, Muslim 
Egyptian-American  
pharmacist Tarek Mehanna, from Sudbury, Mass., 
has been in solitary  
confinement for more than five months for 
refusing to be an informant for the  
FBI at his local mosque.

A
 doctoral graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, respected 
by  
the Muslim community for his leadership, charisma and 
dedication, as well as  
for his outspoken political views against 
the "war on terror" at home and  
abroad, Tarek was targeted by the 
FBI as a potentially valuable tool to  
corroborate any and all 
accusations against Muslims in Boston made by federal  
agents and 
their ranks of agent provocateurs and co-conspirators in the  
endless
 web of entrapment and detention of Arabs and Muslims in this country.

A
 victim of constant surveillance and blackmail, Tarek firmly refused to 
be,  
in his words, "a house slave to an agency that made my people 
the target of  
its abuse."

Federal agents threatened to make 
Tarek's life a "living hell" for his  
refusal, and after months, 
Tarek was arrested on November 2008 on spurious  
charges of making 
"false statements" to federal officers. He was subsequently  
released
 on bail after the case dragged on, with the FBI's failure to provide  
any
 evidence to the charges resorting in only more coercion.

Tarek 
not only refused to submit, but spoke out in his community against the  
ongoing
 detention of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who had been kidnapped in Pakistan  
and
 imprisoned and tortured for five years at Bagram prison in Afghanistan.

With
 no new evidence, but an explosive and vicious media campaign against  
Tarek,
 the FBI arrested him for a second time in the early morning hours of  
October
 21, 2009, on charges of conspiracy to attack civilians at an  
unspecified
 local shopping mall and kill American soldiers abroad as well as  
members
 of the executive branch of the federal government.

The 
prosecution's only evidence came in a 55-page FBI affidavit, based 
mostly  
on testimony from "co-conspirators" in return for leniency 
in their own  
cases.

The presiding judge in this case, Judge 
Leo T. Sorokin, declared on November  
19, 2009, that Tarek would be 
held without bail for having "demonstrated his  
ongoing support of 
terrorism, both by his own recorded statements and by  
investing his
 time and effort in promoting terrorism."

The evidence provided 
to justify this amounted to little more than  
translating an Arabic 
book to English, traveling to Arab countries, having  
political 
conversations, having a blog, and using words like "peanut butter  
and
 jelly" to supposedly mean planning for terrorist attacks.

- - - -
 - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE MEDIA frenzy whipped up meant that 
there was no need to demand actual  
evidence for anything, including
 why the FBI needed to initially charge Tarek  
with making false 
statements if it had been known that Tarek was supposedly  
plotting 
something far more serious for years.

In a letter to his 
supporters responding to a February 2010 /Boston Globe/  
article on 
the case that noted that he had not even been formally charged  
with
 any crimes, Tarek remarked that it was:

>interesting...So the
 most horrific of the allegations leveled against me is  
>the 
only one I am not being charged with? Does that make any sense  
>whatsoever?...
>
>Does
 it make an iota of sense that I supposedly "plotted" to do this, and  
>was
 then left untouched for years after the FBI supposedly "found  
>out"--years
 during which I visited the mall countless times, worked,  
>graduated
 from college, repeatedly boarded airplanes, taught children, came  
>into
 daily contact with hundreds of people, and was then asked by the FBI 
to  
>work for them?
>
>Is this how a "dangerous 
terrorist" is treated? No intelligent mind can  
>accept this.
>
Tarek's
 supporters point out that the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney  
Jeffrey
 Auerhahn, already has a history of misconduct with potential for  
disbarment
 or criminal sanctions for coercing a witness into giving false  
testimony,
 falsifying evidence and perjury while he was in the Racketeering  
Unit
 in the 1989 case of /Vincent Ferarra v. U.S/.

Instead of being 
sanctioned, Auerhahn was allowed by former U.S. Attorney  
Michael 
Sullivan and by current U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz to continue  
working
 as a federal prosecutor in the Anti-Terrorism Unit, where he has been  
allowed
 to use the same tactics on a different set of victims.

Tarek 
spends 23 hours of everyday with no human contact as the case proceeds  
indefinitely,
 and he faces life imprisonment if found guilty. The same story  
can
 be found around the country as untold numbers of predominantly young  
Muslim
 men have been arrested and detained since 9/11, and at an accelerated  
rate
 over the last two years, in order to generate a constant level of  
Islamophobic
 hysteria at a time of majority opposition to the wars in Iraq  
and 
Afghanistan and the expansion of surveillance programs and wiretapping.

This
 has most recently led to the sentencing of 30-year-old  
Pakistani-American
 Fahad Hashmi to 15 years in prison, and the May bomb blast  
at a 
Jacksonville, Fla., mosque 10 days after the country's attention was  
fixated
 on the attempted Times Square bombing.

The May 13 high-profile 
FBI raids in Watertown and Brookline, Mass., that  
attempted to link
 the arrest of local Muslims based on immigration-related  
violations
 to the Times Square plot has also provided ample fodder for  
right-wing
 attacks on Muslims and immigrants in the Massachusetts  
gubernatorial
 race this year.

The wave of raids, FBI entrapment, arrests, sham
 trials, smear campaigns and  
hate crimes are the perfect climate to
 shore up support for the indefinite  
detention and torture of Arabs
 and Muslims and unpopular wars as part of a  
never ending "war on 
terrorism."

Tarek summed up his detention this way: "It is much 
more heroic at a press  
conference to have gotten a 'mall-shooter' 
than it is to have to reveal to  
the public that in the midst of an 
economic disaster, $50,000 tax-payer  
dollars a year are going to be
 spent keeping some guy in solitary confinement  
because you 
couldn't get him to do your bidding."

What is needed is a 
movement that can fight back against the war on terror  
against 
Arabs and Muslims here at home, and free Tarek Mehanna from the  
nightmare
 he is being made to endure for daring to refuse to repress his  
brothers
 and sisters.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

What you can
 do
The letters Tarek receives in prison are very important for his 
morale while  
in solitary confinement. You can write to Tarek at: 
Tarek Mehanna ID#50660  
Unit GSE-108, Plymouth County Correctional 
Facility, 26 Long Pond Road,  
Plymouth, MA 02360

Donate money
 at the Paypal account set up through the Free Tarek Web site  
[1]. 
All donations go to funding organizing for Tarek and to Tarek's account 
 
in prison to buy stamps, pay for phone calls, etc.

Nick Chin
 contributed to this article.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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[1] http://freetarek.com


      
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