The Islamic Post Blog

Muslims in Texas Assist With Ike Relief by Khalida
October 14, 2008, 5:37 pm
Filed under: National, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008 | Tags:
Hand to Hands assisting their neighbors in a joint effort with the Muslim American Society after the devastation of Hurricane Ike.

Hand to Hands assisting their neighbors in a joint effort with the Muslim American Society after the devastation of Hurricane Ike.

By Yasmin A. Atheem,

Hurricane Ike taught residents many hearty lessons. For Houston resident, Elaine Walker, who woke up on Friday, changed her mind, and evacuated with her children, the lesson was the importance of emergency preparedness.  Weather experts are currently considering enhancing the hurricane measurement scale to provide more effective data to aid residents and local government officials in preparing and responding to evacuation requirements. For members of Hand to Hands Social Service agency,  Begum Nisreen, Hawwah Shahid, Samayah Jabari, Juwairiyah Abdullah, and Zulaika A. Karim the lesson came while partnering with the Muslim American Society to help feed residents displaced by the hurricane. Begum Nisreen recalls, “Some of the volunteers were still without power and living in shelters themselves, but there were so many less fortunate than us we had to help.”

Today, most of Houston has returned to pre-Ike status. For residents of Galveston and other coastal towns, it will take months to recover as communities are rebuilt and the city mourns the loss of possible hundreds.

“We are never evacuating again, Hurricane Rita taught us a lesson!” Elaine Walker had exclaimed when Hurricane Ike began to move towards the Gulf of Mexico the first week of September. Along with most Houstonians, Walker was not convinced the minor Hurricane would put Houston and surrounding areas in direct harm. The evacuation attempts during Hurricane Rita were disastrous due to lack of food, money and gas for evacuees. Many Houstonians vowed never to repeat the misadventure. For some, it would be the biggest and last mistake of their lives. Over 60 people are confirmed dead from Hurricane Ike, with over 300 still missing as bodies are still being found in the rubble that was once thriving communities. Galveston Island, approximately 40 milesnsouth of Houston, and other coastal towns were hit hardest where a massive storm surge leveled homes and swept them into the sea.
There is a point in the life of a hurricane where those in its path stand up and pay attention. For the gulf coast of Texas, this was September 9th when various coastal counties called for voluntary evacuation. Voluntary evacuations allow residents to make the decision to stay and seek shelter or escape to a safer part of the city or state. Mandatory evacuations all but force residents to leave as the city declares those who stay behind “on their own” with no emergency services or search and rescue available until after the hurricane completely passes. By September 11th, a mandatory evacuation was in order for all coastal counties including Galveston County and bordering Brazoria County where Begum Nisreen Azim resides. “When we saw that there was a mandatory evacuation, we did not immediately decide to leave. Our first decision was to obtain emergency supplies that would allow us to ride out the storm.” However, a trip to the local market proved unfrui tful as thousands of residents converged at once to pick up non-perishable fo od, bottled water, batteries, and other supplies. “We drove over 40 miles to gather up the appropriate supplies, which was daring considering gas was disappearing faster than food!” explained Azim.  Soon the mandatory evacuations claimed all rations, including money from ATMs, in Galveston and Brazoria counties, due to fleeing business owners.

Friday morning, September 12th, millions of Houston residents woke up to daunting news. The hurricane was certain to come ashore in the Galveston area and would barrel north through Houston with hurricane force winds. Houston was going to take a direct hit. Hurricane Ike was classified as a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale with sustained winds of 110 mph. The real danger though, was the size of the storm, over 800 miles wide almost the size of Texas itself. This unusually large storm began to change the outlook of residents who vowed never to leave after the Hurricane Rita debacle. Elaine Walker reevaluated the situation, “The news kept telling everyone that although the storm was relatively low in terms of the category, the massive size would put everyone at a higher level of danger”. Weather buffs knew that as a Category 2 hurricane, the ability to “weather” the storm was high. But Hurricane Ike had been underestimated.

In the late night hours of September 12th Hurricane Ike came ashore. The outer bands of the massive hurricane could be felt long before the dreaded eye reared its ugly head. Storm surge in Galveston Island was mind blowing as the famous 17 foot seawall saw ocean waters swell right to the edge before the worst of the storm even arrived. “Imagine a wall built to rise 17 feet above sea level to protect the island. Now imagine the ocean suddenly swelling to 20 feet. People who decided to ride out the tame storm began to panic!” exclaimed Samayah Jabari, area resident. But a mandatory evacuation, panic or not, means there was no help for thousands who opted to stay behind on Galveston Island. City officials estimated that 40% of the islands 57,000 residents stayed. Just up the road Houstonians were taken by surprise when the city of 4 million people went black Saturday night; the power was out.

Since Hurricane Ike was so large, residents had to endure eleven hours of hurricane force winds before Ike was downgraded to a less threatening tropical storm.  By Sunday afternoon, the sun brought the realization that parts of Galveston Island were wiped off the map. Huge skyscrapers of glass and concrete, misplaced symbols of power, were destroyed and humbled.  One building which housed several offices had all of the windows shattered and some of the contents of the building, such as chairs, desks, and machinery, thrown and scattered all over the streets below. Trees, fences, cars, roofs and electric poles were thrown about the city as if they were leaves in a breeze. Local authorities began reporting the deaths. A curfew was immediately put in place. Anyone found on the streets after 9pm was subject to arrest. There were no stores open to purchase supplies. There was no potable water, no gas for vehicles, no banks or ATM machines available, and still no power, to the panic of millions. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reacted by setting up emergency services to provide shelter, food and water.


A Blessed Eid of Best Wishes from Muslims of the Americas by Khalida
October 14, 2008, 4:04 pm
Filed under: Magazine/ Culture, Religion, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008

You may view the print version of A Blessed Eid of Best Wishes from Muslims of the Americas by clicking on the link below.

Eid Mubarik!

This high resolution pdf may take a few minutes to load.

Spending The Last 10 Days of Ramadan In The Tradition Of The Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him by Khalida
October 14, 2008, 3:43 pm
Filed under: Magazine/ Culture, Religion, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008
El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, Hashmi, Hassani, wal Hussaini guided the direction of the khalwa with specific instructions conforming with the habits of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him.

El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, Hashmi, Hassani, wal Hussaini guided the direction of the khalwa with specific instructions conforming with the habits of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him.

By Nafisah Begum, Islamic Post Staff Writer

Sura Maida, Sura An'aam, and Sura A'raaf.

The Honorable Khalifa Hussain Abu Bakr delivers lectures on Holy Qur’an: Sura Maida, Sura An'aam, and Sura A'raaf.

Students of the International Qur'anic Open University attend the lecture on Holy Qur'an which incorporated commentary.

Student of the International Qur'anic Open University and participant in the 2008 khalwa in Holy Islamville, South Carolina.

Holy Islam Ville, SC –In the beautiful, picturesque country setting that is Holy Islamville –located in historic York, South Carolina– students of His Eminence Sultan Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani gathered from around the U.S. and Canada during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, some to go into confinement or itikaaf which literally means to apply oneself assiduously to something. In everyday usage, itikaaf is to remain in a mosque with the intention of worship. Khalwa, on the other hand, is also a solitary retreat, but one during which a disciple does extensive spiritual exercises under the direction of a Sufi master.
Those attending khalwa prepared for the rigorous schedule that would be sent by our Murshid, our spiritual guide.
With meticulous care our beloved Murshid carved out a schedule that would afford us the maximum benefit in a short time. This schedule was designed according to the life pattern, or Sunnah of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), who used to engage himself and his family members in intense worship during the last ten days of Ramadan, the bounty of which is immeasurable.
Included in this schedule of intense worship were bayaan, lectures, delivered by the Honorable Khalifah Hussain Abu Bakr on different sections of Holy Qur’an. These suras included, Sura Al Maidah, Sura Al Anaam, Sura Al Araaf.
Each page of these suras were scanned from a very old Holy Quran from South Africa, and each page contained text of the Holy Qur’an, which is in Arabic as well as an English translation and also the scholarly commentary known as tafsir.
Portions of the translation and tafsir given during the khalwa are reproduced below.
Sura Al Maidah opens:
Translation: “O you who believe!, fulfill your promises.”
Tafsir: “Fulfill your promises,” refers to those covenants which the Almighty had taken from previous communities, and as per the previous revealed Books. The meaning of this is to fulfill all those promises you made with your Creator and those of His Messengers who were sent to you. This covenant also extends to a person’s Murshid, wife or husband, and even to one another as the general Muslim body. This covenant relates to lawful promises only, and does not extend to commitments to do wrong.
Translation: “O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allah, nor of the Sacred Months…”
Tafsir: One learns from sha’aa ir Allah, the symbols of Allah, that anything which has religious connection should be shown great reverence. Almighty Allah says in Holy Qur’an, whosoever respects the signs of Allah then it is from the piety of the qalb (heart). (22:32) The Sacred Kaaba, the shrines of the those who are near the Almighty and called friends of Allah, and the Holy Qur’an are but a few examples of the symbols of Allah. Observe to yourself how, when the blessed feet of Hazrat Hajirah, who is known as Hagar in English, Allah bless her, when her feet touched the hills of Safa and Marwa, they immediately became Symbols of Allah. Says Allah Almighty: “No doubt, Safa and Marwa are among the symbols of Allah.” (S2: V158) These symbols of Allah are a now a part of the Hajj ritual.
The significance of this sign touched all khalwa participants. Our Murshid is a direct descendant of the Beloved of Allah and Mercy to the Worlds, Our Master Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore, El Sheikh Gilani is Sha’aa ir Allah (symbol of Allah). How great is the honor due to him from his disciples who understand this phenomenon. May our Murshid live forever!
The tafsir also read that to make friends with the pious servants of Allah is the way of the believers, because holding them dear to is equal to holding Almighty Allah dear. In contrast, hating them is equal to hating Almighty Allah. (tafsir from 5:56)
These are just a few extracts from one of the three suras. The sessions on which were so powerful that tears flowed freely during each bayaan session. Sultan Mubarik Gilani also instructed us to make a special dua complete with sajdah, or prostration, in which the people in khalwa beseeched, on behalf of the entire community of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) with heartfelt pleas of begging for help. “Madad Ya Rasoolallah, Madad Ya Habiballah, Madad Ya Sayidana Muhammad Mustafa ” This special plea was done at the time of breaking the fast when, as Almighty Allah says, there is no veil in between Himself and the fasting person and He answers the prayers of the one who keeps fast.

The Night of Power: Laylatul Qadr

Lailatul Qadr, the Night of Power, was observed with full night vigil in prayer and worship in the Holy Khanqah, Qadria, Gilaniyya: Sufi Lodge 1 in SC.

Residents of Holy Islamville host an honorable guest, the caretaker of the Shrine of Hazrat Sultan Bahu, second from left (wearing spectacles) during the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan.

Khalwa participants break their fast.

The Beloved of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th) out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Bukhari and Muslim].On Lailatul Qadr, the decree to befall all, great and small, is handed down from the heavens, and night vigil should be observed.
Sultan Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani advised not to neglect the final odd nights of Ramadan, and to pay close attention to the 29th, although, it had become the norm to formally recite special prayers on the 27th night.
El Sheikh also narrated a tradition in which “there was one man from among the Bani Israel who wanted to do jihad for about 1000 months. This would equal about 83 years and four months. His name was Shim’oon. Some know him as Samson. Shim’oon would fast and do jihad –in the technical sense, this means war of defense, not agression. He would fight during the day and reserve his nights for worship. Shim’oon was a very strong, honorable, and pious man who destroyed the pillars of the emperor of his day.
In ancient times, people used to live for hundreds of years, The Holy Messenger Nuh, or Noah, peace be upon him, lived for 950 years. There were those before him who lived for 2000 years. When the Noble Companions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) heard of this, they asked, “How can we do as many virtuous deeds as these people when they lived for sometimes thousands of years, whereas we have such short life spans of only 100 years or less?” At this, the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) became sad. Hence, Allah the Most High, gave to him and his community a gift of this special night which is alone worth a thousand months of worship for those who observe it vigil.
Translation: “Indeed We revealed it (the Qur’an) in the Night of Power. And do you know what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is more rewarding than a thousand months (of worship). The Angels and Jibraeel [the Angel Gabriel] descend in that night with regards to all matters. It is blessed until the rise of dawn. (97:1-5)
Tafsir: The nephew of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him), and greatest inheritor of the knowledge and understaning of Holy Quran, Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: Allah’s Messenger, said: “Lailatul-Qadr is calm and pleasant, neither hot nor cold. The sun arises on its morning being feeble and red.” [at-Tayaalisee, Ibn Khuzaimah and al-Bazzaar with a Hasan Isnad]
Our Beloved Murshid continued his narration by giving a description of how the morning of Lailatul-Qadr would appear. “The sun,” he said, “Would look like the moon in that it will have the softness of noor that is cast when moon is full, not like the sun the way we see it everyday.”
Blessed and fortunate are we that El Sheikh Gilani instructed us to pay close attention to the 29th. Those observing khalwa and itikaaf went wholeheartedly into constant worship, completing another full night in the hopes of being of those with whom the angels would shake hands in congratulations at finding him/her engaged in worship on Lailatul Qadr.
Eid Mubarik!
With the sighting of the slim moon that marks the beginning of the Islamic month, this current month being Shawaal we, the followers of Our Master Muhammad (peace be upon him) welcomed the start of Shawaal, Eid day, with mixed emotions. The joy of completing another Ramadan and acquiring the blessing thereof mixed with the sadness that comes when one realizes that this beautiful month has passed and one may or may not see another one.
The Honorable Khalifa Muhammad Husain dropped pearls of wisdom on the faithful servants of Allah after the morning prayers, reminding all of the great blessings sent down on us during the month of Ramadan, and reaffirming the commitment of all present to Almighty Allah, His Beloved Last Messenger (peace be upon him), and the successor to the Beloved of Allah, El Sheikh Sultan Mubarik Ali Gilani, Hashmi.

Business Students to Explore Pakistani Commerce by Khalida
October 14, 2008, 5:17 am
Filed under: Business/Economy, International, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags:

Nasimah A. Aziz

By Umm Sanaa, Islamic Post Staff Writer

Sabirah A. Shakir

The International Qur’anic Open University (IQOU) has announced the sponsorship of two American students to attend its South Asia campus in Lahore, Pakistan.  Naseemah A. Aziz and Saabirah A. Shakir are set to explore business opportunities for merchandising through import and export training. Already undergraduates of IQOU and teachers of conversational Arabic, this new experience will serve as a wonderful compliment to their education and a great benefit to their communities.
The business courses are another example of how the Vice Chancellor of the International Qur’anic Open University, His Eminence, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, has set a standard for his students to excel at both Islamic and secular education. This well-rounded curriculum is key to the achievements of IQOU students over the years.
Upon successful completion of their studies, Ms. Aziz and Ms. Shakir are expected to purchase merchandise rare in this part of the world. Kashmiri shawls and clothing, as well as Pakistani Islamic fashionable garments and hand-stitched embroidered items. They will also be looking to buy decorative calligraphic wall ornamentations, hand crafts, marble ornaments and unique products from the Sindh region. All items are to be brought back to the Americas as the foundation for a business beginning with a huge Islamic marketplace bazaar called namaish.
IQOU students are well-known for their serious academic ambitions, and are applauded for their commitment to sustaining the knowledge through teaching and other practical applications. These two young ladies will be no exception as family members and peers swell with delight thrilled at the possibilities the trip brings.

During Ramadan, Divine Miracle Explained in NY by Khalida
October 14, 2008, 4:30 am
Filed under: Magazine/ Culture, Religion, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Announcement Of Glad Tidings Given On The Occasion of A Divine Miracle in Holy Islamberg, NY

In the photograph above is the name,“Allah,” in Arabic script, which appeared in Noor, Divine Light, on the ceiling of a most honored home in Islamberg, New York. This Divine miracle is a sign for the success and salvation of Muslims, and also the dominance of Al Islam, which is a a just and tolerant way of life. The true teachings of Islam guarantees respect for the religious and human rights of others by Divine mandate that has been in existence on this earth for over 1400 years.

Calligraphy of the name of the Most High Almighty Creator, Allah, displayed here to show clearly how the Arabic letters look.

Another photograph in which the Divine miracle appeared. These miracles were witnessed Sabeeha Hussain and Nasimah Nuruddin and Honorable Mother Khadijah A. Rahim, in the living room of the latter. It was pulsating and shimmering.

Ayannah Rauf, Lailah Begum Rashid and Jamillah Begum witnessed the rainbows which appeared without soures of reflection or water.

By Muhammad Haseeb Abdul Haqq, Islamic Post Staff Writer

This year, the month of Ramadan began much like previous observances for the residents of the quaint Village of Islamberg, located in Hancock, upstate New York. For the 24 years of the village’s existence, the days of the Islamic fasting month have begun with the tahajjud prayer in the middle of the night, while others are asleep. Sehri, the meal taken prior to the beginning of the day’s fast, is taken thereafter. The end of the nighttime hours of worship and nourishment is then hearkened with the adhan, the call to the early morning, fajr prayer.
The serenity of these peaceful hours fades somewhat, as parents hurry daily off to work. Children’s laughter penetrated the atmosphere as they walked the roads leading to the Islamberg Children’s Academy. On the whole, the days were quiet and uneventful; but an hour or so before sunset, the atmosphere changed.  There was a noticeable increase in movement as parents returned from work and children hurried home to prepare themselves for iftar, the small meal taken just after sunset that ends that day of fasting.
The day ended for most with the night prayer, Isha, and the longer Tarawih prayer which follows Isha only during the month of Ramadan. Tarawih was made in congregation at the village’s mosque.
The day’s cycle found itself completed in Holy Islamberg as adults arose again in the stillness of the night to offer more prayers and supplication.

An unusual occurence.
In their daily routine of work and worship, what many village residents were not aware of was that Allah, the Most High, had chosen the Honored Family home of AlHajj Muhammad Jamal A. Rahim Qadri and Khadijah A. Rahim to manifest His personal name, “Allah”, in transparent brilliant white luminous light. The letters were written in Arabic script and pulsated on the ceiling and walls of the living room in their village home. The One Almighty Creator also manifested the name of His Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in radiant green and red Arabic letters that shimmered on the ceiling in the kitchen area of the home. In that same area numerous rainbows with distinct colors were visible on the floor.
How to gain the pleasure of Allah.
Ramadan is a month when Muslims, the world over, increase their acts of worship hoping to raise their awareness of the One Almighty Creator, and seeking His Forgiveness, Help and Protection while praying that every possible good and favor be extended to the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad . Because of the love of the Almighty for the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), this prayer, called darood, becomes the source of salvation by virtue of the distinction bestowed upon those who honor the Beloved of the Most High. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Beloved of Allah, the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, is the Mercy To All The Worlds, and even upon mentioning the blessed name of the Beloved of Allah, “Peace be upon him,” is said afterwards. This practice of invoking blessings and peace, in a spirit of gratitude, love, and obedience to the Almighty, does much to create the aura in the village which was founded by His Eminence, Imam, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, El Hashmi, El Hassani wal Hussaini. El Sheikh Gilani is the Sultan of Qadria and Awliyah, a Sufi Master.

Blessed visitors proclaim the miracle.
Knowing well that scrutiny could follow an announcement of a miraculous manifestation, Honored Mother, Khadijah A. Rahim, kept to herself what she had seen. But visitors to her home began to exclaim the miracle. Her guests confirmed the same karamah, or miracles, which had been appearing on and off for the previous two weeks or more.
Sabeeha Hussain and Nasimah Nuruddin witnessed the name of Allah in the living room (see  photographs below with caption), and it was pulsating and shimmering.
Khadijah Begum was the only one to see the name of Muhammad . The blessed name was “written in noor [Divine light], trimmed in a reddish green hue,” she said.
Ayannah Rauf, Lailah Begum Rashid and Jamillah Begum witnessed the rainbows.
Attempts to capture on film.
Some guests in the home of Khadijah A. Rahim looked for sources of refracted light and reflections. Another visitor raised a camera with the hopes of capturing the images. Each time the camera was raised the images faded but quickly returned when the camera was lowered. [*The photographs shown on this page display the same phenomenon, themselves being not as vibrant as the actual occurrence.]

Announcement of glad tidings.
When Khadijah Begum placed a call to El Sheikh Gilani to mention the blessed events, she was overwhelmed with excitement at what she and her companions had witnessed.
After conversing with El Sheikh, the Honored Mother began to announce the miracles that had occurred in her home. Khadijah Begum had been advised during the call to announce to all the marvelous glad tidings from Almighty Allah, and to proclaim this  to Muslims in particular: the coming Salvation, Success and Dominance of Al Islam.

Second Holy Khanqah named in the United States.
His Eminence also stated that the Village of Islamberg has been named “The Village of Holy Islamberg,” and that the site of the miracles would henceforth be known as, “The Holy Khanqah, Qadria Gilaniyya, Sufi Lodge 2.” A khanqah is a place for worship and contemplation of the One Almighty Allah. Muslims and non-Muslims of whatever background are welcomed therein to put forth their own needs and prayers to the One Almighty Allah, which are answered with expedience by the Almighty Himself.
El Sheikh Gilani emphasized that all the proper reverence and etiquettes should be observed, in the same fashion as in Sufi Lodge 1 in Holy Islamville, South Carolina. This is due to the blessed and lofty status of the miracle site, a gift from Allah to Whom all glorification, praise and thanks are due.
Allah the Most High chooses, when He wishes, to manifest who His true friends are.

Sufi Lodge 1.
It has become customary for thousands of Muslims, mostly from North and South America, to observe the Blessed 27th Night of Ramadan and also the Eid ul Fitr, the congregational prayer and festivities that denote the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at the Holy Khanqah located in the Village of Holy Islamville, in York, S.C. Journeys are routinely undertaken to the site in the southern United States where miraculous signs have been occurring for over a decade. The Holy Khanqah, Qadria Gilaniyya, in Holy Islamville, S.C., is Sufi Lodge 1.

American People Gain Victory Over Guantanamo In Hamdan Case by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Latino/Caribe, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags:
Matthew Bradley)

The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest presented the annual Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage to Air Force Lt. Col. Sharon Shaffer (center) and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles D. Swift (right) in 2005 for their defense of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and challenge of a Presidential order. (Photo: Matthew Bradley)

By Raheemah Atif, Islamic Post Staff Writer

Naval lawyer Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, who represented Salim Hamdan at Guantanamo Bay, is now Retired and setting up his law practice in Seattle, according to the Seattle Pi. Lt. Cmdr. Swift told a Town Hall forum this month in Seattle that his fight against unfettered presidential power boiled down to the premise that “no one is above the law.”
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift’s lawsuit famously compared President Bush’s actions in trying his client — a Yemeni tribesman who was Osama Bin Laden’s chauffeur — with King George III’s draconian practices in colonial America, the Seattle Pi reported. Swift made the analogy to a federal judge in Seattle, where he first filed the landmark case asserting Bush overstepped his authority when he bypassed Congress and set up military tribunals to try detainees at the Navy base at Guantanamo, Cuba.
After 66 months of imprisonment at Guantanamo detainment camp, Salim Hamdan, a purported driver of Osama bin Laden, finally had his day in court, the first of the official U.S. Tribunal commissions ordered by the Bush administration to try the cases of individuals captured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and labeled as “enemy combatants.”
Hamdan’s  prosecution and defense presentations were heard by six military officers who comprised the jury.  That jury finally acquitted Mr. Hamdan of conspiracy to attack the U.S. as an agent of al-Qaeda, leaving one charge of providing material support for terrorism in his act of transporting weaponry.
The sentence for the latter charge amounting to the 61 months that Hamdan has already served at Guantanamo, plus six additional months imprisonment. The trial was conducted under unusually strict secrecy, with only selected journalists, officials, and attorneys permitted in the courtroom, and with the prosecution very confident of a conviction carrying a much stiffer sentence on the strength of their claim of solid evidence in their possession.
The decision of the military commission jury sent an unexpected message to the Bush administration that, despite the inflammatory press, and the prosecution’s intention to project Mr. Hamdan as a hardened al-Qaeda stalwart, the facts born out during the testimony and evidence presented during the trial did not validate as such. The “honor and integrity” of the jury members, civilian attorney defense team member Joseph Mc Millan stated to the press,  enabled their arrival at a fair sentence in the end.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick (his last name was purposely withheld), member of the military jury, commented, “In none of the evidence presented did you ever see him brandishing a weapon at all.  Even when he was captured and the evidence all showed that there was an AK-47 right there in the front seat, the guys behind him and in front of him deployed weapons; he bailed out of the car and ran.”
Most of the Guantanamo prisoners are being released because of a lack of evidence to continue holding them; while the Bush administration removed more “important” prisoners to secret overseas prisons early on, refusing to surrender them for trial.  Such was the case with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, being held in connection with the September 11 attacks.
Mr. Hamdan explained in a statement which he read in Arabic before the jury that he merely had an “employer/employee” relationship with Osama bin Laden, and repeatedly apologized to the American people for any hardship or pain caused them. Military judge Navy Captain Keith Alldred wished him and his family the best upon his return to home.
The fulfillment of the remaining six months of incarceration, however, is not a guarantee that he will be released as the Federal government has classified Mr. Hamdan as an “enemy combatant,” and as such could still be subject to indefinite detainment.

Alleged Terrorist ,Carriles, Summoned Back to United States Courtroom by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Latino/Caribe, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags: , , ,
Luis Posada Carriles.

Luis Posada Carriles.

A three-member panel of judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of the US District  of Western Texas is hearing an appeal by the United States (as Plaintiff) related to the dismissal of an indictment lodged against Luis Posada Carriles on charges that false statements were used in the course of an interview conducted during his naturalization proceedings.  Carriles, a notorious operative once on the CIA payroll, and who has allegedly been named as the mastermind behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people were killed, was described by Peter Kornbluh , then Senior Analyst of the National Security Archive, during a  2007  hearing before The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, as “one of the top ten most prolific purveyors of political violence in contemporary history.”
The District Court charged initially that the government had “engaged in deceptive conduct and outrageous tactics” during the naturalization proceedings; the court also had “the suppression of statements” made by Carriles that were subject to “incompetent translation” , apparently to expedite the acquisition of US citizenship for Carriles, who now resides in Florida.
The decision of the Court has effectively reversed the dismissal of the indictment, and  demands that the suppressed statements from Posada’s naturalization interview  be submitted before the Court, reopening the case for further litigation.
The protracted record of Posada’s covert political involvements precedes his culminating effort to become a U.S. citizen by two decades. Carriles was born in Cuba, and was opposed to the domination of his native country by Fidel and Raul Castro. The appellate court brief elaborates the scenario:
“In 1961, Posada became involved with the planning for the Bay of Pigs invasion and was brought into contact with the CIA. He later enlisted in the United States Army, was commissioned a second lieutenant, and received special training at Fort Benning with other former members of the 2506th Cuban Brigade who had been commissioned in the United States Armed Forces.
“Posada was honorably discharged from the Army in March 1964. Unclassified documents contained in the record indicate that from 1965 until 1974 he operated as a paid CIA asset, although Posada asserts that he maintained a relationship with the CIA well into the 1980’s. Posada went to work for the Venezuelan secret police in 1967 and eventually became the head of a security division in charge of surveillance, VIP protection, weapons, and explosives.
“In this capacity, he directed counterinsurgency operations against leftist guerillas supported by Castro. Posada was later arrested by Venezuelan authorities in connection with the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Aerolineas aircraft in which all 73 people aboard were killed. After several years, he escaped from prison while still awaiting trial. Venezuela still seeks extradition; Posada, for his part, denies any involvement and claims that the charges were orchestrated by Castro.
“After his escape from a Venezuelan prison, Posada made his way to El Salvador. There he became involved in supplying arms and materiel to aid the U.S.-backed Contras fighting against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, an operation that came to light as part of the Iran-Contra affair. Posada moved to Guatemala in 1989 and was employed in security by the state telephone company. In 1990, he was shot several times in the face and torso during an assassination attempt allegedly carried out by Cuban agents. Throughout the 1990’s he lived under assumed names in various Central American countries. When a series of hotel and tourist-site bombings occurred in Havana in 1997, Posada was suspected of involvement.
“The following year, he was the subject of two front-page articles in the New York Times in which he claimed a coordinating role in planning and executing the bombings. Posada later asserted, however, that his statements had been misunderstood and distorted by the reporter who interviewed him. In 2000, Posada was arrested in Panama in connection with an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro at a summit meeting in that country. He was detained for several years and ultimately convicted of crimes against national security (a Panamanian offense related to the manufacture or acquisition of bomb-making materials1) and counterfeiting public records.”
Having been pardoned by the president of Panama before he left office in 2004, Posada sought legal asylum in the United States. Despite his illegal entry, he arranged an interview for that purpose, but on the day of the interview withdrew his asylum petition and instead held a press conference in Miami announcing his “presence.”  As the brief continues, “Immigration officials took Posada into custody later that afternoon, and a few days later, on May 21, 2005, he submitted to an interview. Posada was ultimately placed in removal proceedings and, on September 27, 2005, ordered removed “to any country, other than Cuba and Venezuela, willing to accept him.”
From this point, Posada remained detained in an immigration-law equivalent of limbo. On October 12, 2005, Posada filed an application for naturalization with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). This application and the related naturalization proceedings ultimately formed the basis for Posada’s indictment on false statement charges.
The Appellate Court finds serious issue with the fact that in the course of the overview of Posada’s past (normally, the previous five years of activity are investigated in evaluating a naturalization applicant’s character record), Posada’s violent political activities were conveniently overlooked.  It  asserts that, indeed, an applicant’s history must be viewed beyond the statutory period in order to make an accurate judgement, especially for a person known to have a less-than-pristine past, and that this extended overview is necessary and within the interpretation of the law.
The case has subsequently been sent back, or remanded, to a lower court for re-litigation of the initial indictment, and possible deportation of Carriles.
-Raheemah Atif contributed to this report