Cryptome has many photographs of a demonstration by ANSWER and several Muslim groups in support of Aafia Siddiqui and other convicted and accused al-Qaeda members. Cryptome is usually a good source, but their judgement of this as a demonstration against "persecution" of Muslims is way off.
The professionally printed signs are by International ANSWER, the protest-marketing organization known for their promotion of anti-semitism and their unrestrained partisan support for anybody that considers the United States an enemy, no matter who they are or what they stand for. ANSWER is also known for rebranding itself through infinite front groups for every possible issue. Today ANSWER is calling itself the "Women Fight Back Network". Funny, that's exactly what Siddiqui was convicted of.
The message discipline of ANSWER's New York chapter is excellent. ANSWER protests in the past have been notorious for the population of Hezbollah, PLO, and Taliban flags and Hamas armbands. There were none here. The only explicit sign of support for terrorism is at the bottom of one person's hand-written sign in one photograph, the word "Palestine!". Whether or not the remaining signs are implicit signs of support for terrorism is a subjective question depending upon who the people referenced on the signs are.
The central martyr for the protest is Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of attempting to kill a U.S. soldier after her capture. It is notable that this is all that the U.S. government tried to prosecute her with after earlier accusing her of much more, and that the government's account of her capture, being found in a dazed state while loitering on a street corner after having dropped from existence for the past several years, is quite suspicious. It has been widely reported that Siddiqui was tortured in a possible previous detention by the United States as the "Grey Lady of Bagram" or "Prisoner 650". Although the American use of torture during the second Bush Administration is well known, the allegations specific to Siddiqui seem to originate with a few individuals. Besides Siddiqui herself, the most widely acknowledged source is Moazzam Begg of Cage Prisoners, a pro-al-Qaeda organization that masquerades as a human rights organization in the UK, and other reports come from Taliban operative Yvonne Ridley. This does not mean these allegations are untrue, but it demands further investigation.
Other people endorsed by some of the protesters at the event are:
- The Fort Dix Five including the three Duka Brothers -- convicted in 2008 of planning to attack a U.S. Army base in New Jersey.
- Ehsanul "Shifa" Sadequee -- An Atlanta man convicted in 2009 of espionage on behalf of al-Qaeda.
- The Newburgh Four -- accused of attempting to bomb a Jewish temple in New York. Their trial is ongoing as of this writing.
- Tarek Mehanna -- accused of planning to machine-gun shoppers at a Boston marketplace. Mehanna blogged under the pseudonym Abu Sayaba, a name taken from the leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization. His trial is ongoing as of this writing.
- Betim Kaziu -- accused in 2009 of attempting to join al-Qaeda. I can find no word of him having a trial since his arrest in September nine months ago. On May 7th, Eastern District Judge Gleeson held a status conference on Kaziu's case, 09cr00660. Kaziu is represented by Henry Steinglass.
- Fahad Hashmi -- Pled guilty to conspiring to provide military supplies to al-Qaeda, after three years in solitary confinement with no trial.
- Mumia Abu-Jamal -- Convicted of killing a police officer in 1981.
With the exception of Abu-Jamal, all of them are accused of involvement with violent jihadist organizations.
The central message of the New York event is that it was the FBI itself that recruited all of these people into terrorism. This is also the defense being used in the Newburgh Four case and in the case of Mohamed Alessa of New Jersey who is accused of attempting to join al-Qaeda's Somalia affiliate al-Shabaab. Such entrapment has happened in the past, notably with Earth First whose violent operations in Arizona were conceived of, led, and carried out by FBI infiltrators and were then used as an excuse by the FBI to suppress the rest of the national group. The "counter-intelligence program" abuses of the 1960s and the 1970s are also well known.
However, this does not mean that the persons under discussion here are automatically innocent. Several were convicted with no reported signs of irregularities in their trials -- not to imply that their trials were well reported on -- and the evidence used against some of them includes statements they made in support of jihad. Siddiqui, the main attraction, went as far as to blame the Jews for her arrest and conviction. She and at least some of the others clearly are loyal to the terrorist organizations that they are accused of supporting. They are all being supported here by these protesters either regardless of this information, or perhaps because of it.
Nor can all of the cases be lumped together because a few of them are guilty. Each individual case must be judged on its merits, and the case of each individual defendant must be considered separately from his co-defendants.
List of organizations in the protest, according to Project SALAM:
- American Muslim Alliance -- The organization of Dr. Agha Saeed who also runs the California Civil Rights Alliance and the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections. The AMT whitewashes the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood front CAIR as "the nation's largest and most respected Muslim civil rights organization".
- Community Masjid of Atlanta, Georgia -- Lists its Imam as Jamil al-Amin, probably the same Jamil al-Amin as the former H. Rap Brown who has been in jail for ten years for killing a police officer. It is unclear who is currently running the organization. Al-Amin created an American Muslim organization called the Ummah which included Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in a shootout with police in 2009
- Families United For Justice in America (FUJA) - One of Saalakhan's organizations.
- International Action Center (New York) - Ramsey Clark's ANSWER chapter. The central component of ANSWER and its many front organizations.
- International Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal -- Led by Pam Africa of MOVE, the organization whose headquarters was bombed by the city of Philadelphia in 1985.
- Islamic Circle of North America (NY Chapter) -- Described by Wikipedia as an offshoot of the Muslim Students Association and as allied with the Jamaat-e-Islami party of Pakistan.
- JERICHO -- The National Jericho Movement which calls for the release of "political prisoners" who were generally convicted of some violent crime. The capitalization of a non-acronym suggests the presence of MOVE members in Jericho's representation.
- Justice For Aafia Coalition -- The organization of Maryam Hassan, an executive director of CagePrisoners and a follower of al-Qaeda preacher Anwar Awlaki.
- Majlis-Ashura of New York -- The organization of Al-Amin Abdul Latif. Also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. The Ikhwanul Tawheed Academy shares the same address. One of Latif's sons was killed by police while unarmed in 1994.
- Masjid At-Taqwa (Brooklyn, NY) -- The mosque of Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who also leads the Muslim Alliance in North America.
- Masjid Mujahideen (Philadelphia, PA) -- The mosque of Asim Abdur Rashid, who also leads the Majlis ash Shura of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley since its former leader Imam Shamsud-Din Ali of the Nation of Islam's Philadelphia Masjid mosque by Durham Park was convicted of racketeering in 2005. Rashid is a member of the Muslim Alliance in North America.
- Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (Harlem, NY) -- A Nation of Islam mosque led by Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, who is also a member of the Muslim Alliance in North America.
- Movement in Movement Artist & Activist Collective (New York)
- Muslim Alliance in North America -- An organization led by Siraj Wahhaj of the Masjid Al-Taqwa in New York.
- Muslim Consultative Network of New York -- The organization of Adem Carroll, with a board member being Debbie Almontaser of Khalil Gibran International Academy.
- Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum (New York) -- The organization of Shahid Comrade.
- Project SALAM -- The organization of Lynne Jackson of Albany, New York, who is also an organizer of United For Peace and Justice and a supporter of Jericho. Another SALAM member is attorney Stephen Downs, probably the same man who was charged with trespassing for wearing an anti-war T-shirt shortly before the invasion of Iraq, which ended poorly for the guard who harassed him.
- The Fahad Hashmi Support Committee (New York) -- A project of the Muslim Justice Initiative of Ammar alShukry.
- The Fort Dix 5 Support Committee (Philadelphia, PA) -- An organization often promoted by Joseph Piette of the Worker's World Party, to the point that I believe him to be a part of it. It often protests with Project SALAM.
- The Free Shifa Support Committee of Atlanta, GA -- The organization of Sharmin Sadequee of Lansing, Michigan, the sister of defendant Ehsanul "Shifa" Sadequee.
- The Newburgh Four Support Committee (New York) -- The organization of Anne Gibbons, the wife of Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance leader Ivan Braun, and Alicia McWilliams-McCollum, the aunt of Newburgh Four defendant David Williams. Lynne Jackson of Project SALAM is a member.
- The New York Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal -- The organization of Fatirah Aziz of Philadelphia, who is also of the Quba Institute and the African American Freedom and Reconstruction League.
- The Peace And Justice Foundation (Silver Spring, MD) -- Also known as the Peace Through Justice foundation, this is the organization of El-Hajj Mauri Saalakhan of Maryland who also sells CDs of anti-semitic essays. Saalakhan wrote press releases for this rally which were republished on Toronto's TheMuslim.ca and Revolution Muslim.
- The Tarek Mehanna Support Committee (Boston, MA) -- The organization of Ahmed Sorour.
- WESPAC Foundation (Pleasantville, NY) -- The Westchester Peace Action Council, an activist group led by Nada Khader which often works with ANSWER/IAC.
Rearranging the promoters by primary ideology (this does not express overlap between groups):
- Mauri Saalakhan's Peace And Justice Foundation
- Maryam Hassan's CagePrisoners (as the Justice for Aafia Coalition)
- ICNA (linked to MSA and Jamaat-e-Islami)
- Nation of Islam / Black Nationalists
- H. Rap Brown's Ummah and Community Masjid of Atlanta
- Siraj Wahhaj's MANA and Masjid at-Taqwa of Brooklyn
- Asim Abdur Rashid's Masjid Mujahideen of Philadelphia
- Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid's Islamic Brotherhood mosque of Harlem
- Pam Africa's MOVE and other Mumia Abu-Jamal supporters
- National Jericho Movement
- Other Muslims
- Agha Saeed's AMA/AMT and FUJA
- Al-Amin Abdul Latif's NY Majlis- Ashshura / Ikhwanul Tawheed
- Adem Carroll and Debbie Almontaser's Muslim Consultative Network
- Ammar alShukry's Fahad Hashmi Support Committee / FreeFahad
- Tarek Mehanna Support Committee
- Ramsey Clark's IAC/ANSWER/etc
- Shahid Comrade's Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum
- Lynne Jackson's Project SALAM
- Nada Khader's WESPAC
- The Fort Dix 5 Support Committee
- The Newburgh Four Support Committee
- Friends and family of the defendants
- Sharmin Sadequee's Free Shifa Support Committee
See also: WSWS reports on a previous conference held by Project SALAM, the National Lawyers' Guild, the ACLU of New York, and relatives of defendants at New York University. Law And Disorder lists the Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA), Islamic Law Students Association (ILSA) and Law Students for Human Rights as co-sponsors of that conference.