In a Federal District Court in Ohio, three men—Mohammad Amawi, Marwan El-Hindi, and Wassim Mazloum—were found guilty by a jury of conspiring to kill persons outside the United States. The case goes to show how simple it is for the criminal justice system to resolve, through the due process of law, matters the red-tie Republicans insist must be handled by star chambers in the form of "military commissions."
The case began, as many do, with a paid informant of the FBI instigating dumb Muslims to engage in conduct in violation of the Congress's "Anti-Terrorism" law, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2332-2339 et seq. At the behest of the FBI, Darren Griffin embedded himself in the Muslim community in Toledo, Ohio. (How dumb can these Muslims be? There must be one of these guys in every mosque in the country by now.) Griffin joined a mosque in the area and met Marwan El-Hindi, who "asked about the feasibility of kidnapping an Israeli soldier or politician." In June 2004, El-Hindi asked Griffin to "train him and two recruits as Islamic extremists for jihad." In February 2005, Griffin brought El-Hindi to an apartment and introduced him to Amawi. All three men then watched "jihadist videos." Griffin suggested that they find some "brothers" to participate in jihad and Amawi recommended Mazloum. Griffin, El-Hindi, Amawi, and Mazloum then met together in El-Hindi's home. Griffin told the three men that he would train them in jihad. El-Hindi said he wanted to be a sniper. Mazloum said he wanted to be a bomb-maker, and Amawi wanted to be both.
In August 2005, Griffin and Amawi traveled to Jordon. Griffin stayed a week and returned to the U.S. Five months later he returned to Jordon, stayed a week and again returned to the U.S. In February 2006, the FBI arrested Amawi in Jordon and returned him to the U.S.
On appeal from the jury verdict, the three defendants claimed the evidence was insufficient to convict them of the "terrorism" charges. Amawi, for example, contended that the government's evidence failed to show that he intended to participate in a plan to kill U.S. military personnel or provide material support to terrorists. The Court of Appeals laughed Amawi out of court on this one, pointing out that "Amawi told Griffin, quite explicitly, that he `wanted to go to perform Jihad against the U.S. troops overseas.'" El-Hindi, for his part, argued that there was no evidence that connected him to a conspiracy to kill people. "Not so," said the Court of Appeals; "El-Hindi offered to recruit brothers in Michigan (Dearborn, no doubt) for jihadi training." As for Mr. Mazloum, he argued that all he was doing was improving his physical fitness and developing his military training in anticipation of returning to his home in Lebanon. "The evidence tells a different story," the Court said; "After agreeing to undergo training by Griffin, Mazloum stated that the `fight is in the land of the Army.'
According to the Court of Appeal, "The evidence shows that Amawi, El-Hindi, and Mazloum shared an intent to engage in activities that were aimed at killing U.S. military personnel and that they participated in a common plan to provide material support to this activity."
The First Amendment Defense
The defendants sought a jury instruction that the First Amendment guarantees to all persons the right of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom to exercise religion. The trial court instructed the jury on this issue this way: "Proof that people simply met together from time to time and talked about common interests (Let's train ourselves to kill people), such as political views or religious beliefs, is not enough to establish a criminal agreement." The Court of Appeal waved off the defendants' objection that this instruction did not go far enough with the statement:
"Although the conspiracy was proved by many of the defendants' conversations about political and religious matters, the conviction was based on an agreement to cooperate in the commission of a crime, not simply to talk about it." (Huh?)
Amawi received a sentence of twenty years, El-Hindi ten years, and Mazloum eight years.
Three Muslim Dummies
Let's not forget Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the original World Trade bomber, now serving life in federal prison, convicted by a jury in the federal court in New York City. Upon appeal from the jury verdict, Yousef complained that the United States defines "terrorism" in a way that is not recognized by the law of nations, pointing to several judicial decisions.
Unlike those offenses supporting universal jurisdiction under international law, that is, piracy, war crimes and crimes against humanity, no consensus among nations exists as to how properly to define "terrorism."
One man's terrorist," the cliché goes, "is another man's freedom fighter." For example, each side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict charges the other with "terrorism," sentiments echoed by their allies. In other words, when "motive" is taken into account, some States assert the right of a people oppressed by another people to engage in armed struggle of self-determination. Thus, in the view of these States, violent acts do not constitute "terrorism" if committed by a people seeking self-determination in opposition to a violently enforced occupation. The Arabs under the thumb of the Jews in the West Bank; the Irish under the thumb of the English in Northern Ireland; the Confederates under the thumb of the Union; the Vietnamese under the thumb of the French; the Comanche under the thumb of the United States Army; and on and on.
Note: Yousef looks exactly like a Purple gangster in a newspaper photo.
The Detroit Mob, circa 1930
The United States Congress has adopted several approaches to defining "terrorism," demonstrating that, even within nations, no single definition prevails. There are statutes defining the concept in terms of motive, stating that terrorism involves acts intended to coerce a civilian population that is occupying another people's territory (think Israel), or intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation (think Kent State), or intended to cause damage to the interests of the United States (Huh?).
The human reality is, once politics is set aside, "terrorism" is nothing more or less than crime defined as murder, mayhem, etc, directed many times at total strangers, as the shooters directed their gun fire during their rampages at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. There simply exists no good reason to pretend that bearded Muslims, as a violent group of nuts, cannot be processed through the criminal justice system, but must be dragged in chains through a star chamber. If the American criminal justice system is good enough for the old gangs it's good enough for the new gangs.