“…Her advice remained, “Son, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything wrong. It makes no difference if they offer you 4 years or 45 years. You haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything wrong.” But they grieve over the incarceration of their beloved son…”
From: Abu Qatada Ali Asad
To: Honorable Claude M. Hilton
Your honor! Over this last year I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of sentence hearings in this courtroom. I’ve learned that defendants are given the opportunity to make a statement which supposedly will be considered in the making of a final decision about their fate. The true purpose of this procedure is still unclear to me. Common sense tells me that a man at the verge of imprisonment would likely say whatever seems convenient to move the court towards a favorable decision for him. Most convicts will then use this opportunity to beg the court for a lesser sentence.
I, on the other hand, find hesitation in my heart to ask you to do that. This is truly not in the spirit of disrespecting the court but solely because truth is always clear like daylight and is not a matter of negotiations. If a person is guilty, he should admit so from the very beginning; and if from the beginning the person sincerely proclaims his innocence, he should not then turn to dishonesty and come to a sentencing hearing to then admit any guilt.
Your Honor! Today, standing in front of you and with Allah as my witness I tell everyone that I am innocent of what I am convicted and don’t deserve to spend a single day in prison. Today, as I am separated from my parents, my brother, sister, my wife, my children, students, and friends I say that God knows well I would never support terrorists.
I am not surprised the Government is asking for a lengthy sentence in the name of a crime I did not commit. It won’t be the first time that a person is wrongly accused and unjustly imprisoned. For the imprisonment of innocent people is as old as the so-called “civilization” itself. There is at least one person whose false imprisonment is not denied by those who follow the heavenly revealed scriptures, namely Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They all agree upon the truthfulness of this story, the life of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him), who was imprisoned because he refused to obey his master’s wife.
He refused to agree to a false plea because it was against the command of His Lord even though he faced indefinite imprisonment. He was later released to eventually become the King of Egypt. True Justice always prevails. Rather than an “Islamic extremist” I am a man who believes in the message of the prophets and messengers and do not differentiate between them. And this is the religion that I follow.
The dishonest government of today is not much different from the wicked government who governed Egypt some 4,000 years ago. The only difference between the two is that those ancient governments did not imprison people in the name of “democracy” but rather they committed injustice without any pretext of law. On the contrary, these modern descendants of injustice make use of the false claims of honesty when they are acting unjustly. Allow me to explain. They first endorse the necessary unlawful laws that would justify their own unlawful practices and then “lawfully” imprison people like me. That is to say, the governments in the past were honest in their dishonesty and did not hide the fact that they were imprisoning people to safeguard their own interests, and not those of the community. But these modern disciples of injustice cast innocent people into prison to remove the so-called “threat” they feel from this 3rd grade teacher standing here today. In short, the rulers in the past were mere tyrants. Today’s rulers are also shameless liars.
The government stated that I am not here because of my beliefs, regardless of how despicable my beliefs are. Well, these prosecutors do not represent America. In fact, they are misleading American people and are a danger to the whole of society. And with great regret I say, their individualistic view to protect their careers by committing injustice against others will eventually bring this beautiful land down. Nations live as long as their justice does, when justice falls so does the nation.
Islam tells us to stand up against injustice. It is for this reason that I reject the opportunity to lie against myself and against others in exchange for a shorter sentence. And no matter what the result is today, I know that eventually the justice will prevail. Anyone who has transgressed against me in this trial should know that on the Day of Judgment I will not be happy till I take from them just as they have taken from me in this world. Those who have separated me from my parents, those who participated in making my children orphans, those who separated me from my brother, my sister, and everyone else, and those who have made my wife like a widow today, I pray to Allah to give you exactly what you have given me.
I am 29 years old. My elderly parents await my sentence knowing well that they may not live long enough to see my release. None feels more honorable than my mother who sits here in this courtroom with her head raised with pride and honor that her son did not break the principles that she instilled in him. Her advice remained, “Son, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything wrong. It makes no difference if they offer you 4 years or 45 years. You haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything wrong.” But they grieve over the incarceration of their beloved son. If my parents die before my release, I ask them to plead and complain to Allah that a piece of our heart was taken away by the government of the United States of America because of some toy paintballs. Toy paintballs . . . the fate of which is unknown to both the government and the defense.
Lastly, Your honor! To tell you a little bit about myself, I was born in Lahore, Pakistan and went to one of the best primary schools there. I was later admitted to the best secondary school called Aitchison College. This school was built in 1876 at the time of the British colonization of the Indian subcontinent – way before the conflict in Kashmir ever started. I successfully finished 10th and 11th grades there and in 1994, came to United States. I finished high school at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, MD in 1995 and enrolled in Montgomery College, initially as a Criminal Justice major. That major changed to Information Systems and I finally graduated from the University of Maryland. I always maintained a job. I supported myself and my family. I worked hard to pay for my school and I never had to take any loan to pay for my tuition. I studied Arabic language and taught it to both Muslims and non-Muslims at As-Salik Arabic institute.
Twelve years have gone by and many things have changed in the world we live in, and a lot of changes have taken place in our lives. One thing however remains the same. No one ever received any harm either from my words or my actions. As my father frankly put it, “With all the allegations and witnesses the government produced in this trial, and with all the investigations and arrests that they have made, and with the billions of tax dollars that they have used against my son, not a single person on the face of the Earth came forward to testify that he even received a prick of thorn from my son Ali.”
The prosecutors suggested during the trial that these sentiments might be expected from a member of my family. But none put it more bluntly than the respected juror who convicted me when he told the Washington Post, that he thought the case “shouldn’t have been brought at all. It was very insignificant.” And he said the whole investigation was “way too minor, regardless of whether they convicted 11 people.”I thank my wife for standing next to me in these hard times and also the community that did not abandon me. I thank my parents to raise me the way they did and I am grateful to them.
SubhanakaAllahuma Wa bi Hamdik, Wa AshhaduAnLa Ilaha IlaAalh Wa Ashhadu AnaMuhammadan RasoolAllah Thanks
Abu Qatada Ali Asad