Hardball Tactics

“Did we break something up? Yeah, we think we did,” said a law enforcement official involved in the case, speaking on condition of anonymity under Justice Department rules. “But we would not profess to say we had anything more than the potential for it.”

No, you didn’t.

A summary by the Washington Post called Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats on the “Paintball trials” that convicted 11 brothers in the DC area The picture that accompanies the article is fascinating to me because I was there that day praying outside with the brothers and sisters. Alhamdulillah, you cannot see the sister’s section but we prayed behind the brothers.

I don’t recall being aware that the photographers were taking pictures as we lined up to pray. I do however remember that their were several construction workers high up on one of the adjacent buildings under construction shouting obscenities at us as we prayed. Umar Lee was quoted in the article and he posted a clarification of his comments on his blog.

Over the past few years, the Alexandria Courthouse which is architecturally beautiful has become a place of so many unjust tactics, trials, and sentences. Men most of whom had no intention of harming anyone and indeed did not harm anyone were given sentences of life or more than life for refusing to lie against themselves or others.

Some brothers plea bargained with the prosecution and received sentences of 2-3 years and some have now been released. The prosecution offered each defendant a plea deal which would have seen sentences generally less than 5 years. If the men were so dangerous why would they offer very short sentences to avoid a trial unless they were afraid of an acquittal at trial due to the weakness of the evidence.

But the prosecution did a good job of keeping the juries in a state of fear by repeatedly invoking 9/11 and Osama bin Laden which in reality had nothing to do with any of the charges against these men. And now we see that Paul McNulty one of the lead prosecutors has been promoted to deputy Attorney General.

But how can one admit to a crime he did not commit? It is a brave and honorable act to stand up for real justice and not give in to the pressures to plea bargain. May Allah subhanhu wa ta ala protects us from ever having to make that decision.

Now, we have many families that have lost a son, wives have become effective widows, and children have become partial orphans. Surely, true justice will be meted out not in the courthouse in Alexandria but on the Day of Judgment.

What happened in those courtrooms was not an exercise of justice. It was not a victory for the war on terror rather it was a salvo in the war on Islam. Some of the points repeatedly highlighted by the prosecution to show the danger of these men:

  • They were practicing Muslims.
  • They would gather together to watch films or discuss the situation of Muslims around the world.
  • They would go to the masjid more than once a day.
  • They had books, audio lectures, or videos which are freely available that may not be politically correct but certainly are not illegal.
  • They exercised freedom of speech.
  • They played paintball together.
  • They helped out other Muslims.
  • A few received weapons training at a Laksha-e-Taiba base in Pakistan which at the time had not been designated a “terrorist group”.

And for these”crimes”, charge against charge was piled against them and they have been convicted in this temporal life but most certainly will be acquitted in the next life.

May Allah subhanhu wa ta ala protect them and their families and all of us. Ameen.

Statement of Masuad Khan at Sentencing

Statement of Ali al Timimi at Sentencing

Statement of Ali Asad Chandia at Sentencing

Paintball Convictions


  1. The question is, how far should US law enforcement and security people go in the pursuit of safety, and how scrupulous should they be, given the possible effects of failure? Is there a way to do what they need to do without it being interpreted as a war against Islam?

  2. I think the first step is either to hire more Muslims in the FBI or to actually try to learn about Islam from actual Muslims and not these talking head/book promoting Islam experts who can’t even pronounce the world correctly.

    Day after day in that courthouse, I listened to the prosecutors make the most outlandish claims and interpretations of Islam, Islamic rulings, and Muslim behavior in general.

    For example, the prosecutors cited the fact that Ahmed Abu Ali prayed in the mosque/masjid once or twice a day as a sign of his extremism. In reality, conservative Muslims believe that it is obligatory to pray 5 times a day in the masjid so a person who only goes once or twice is not generally not considered that observant let alone, a fanatic.

    In the case of Dr. Ali al-Timimi anyone and everyone who is sincere knows that he does not and did not espouse support for terrorism. He is actually among the more “moderate” (that term has been used to imply many things) scholars in our community. He is now, serving life in prison for essentially exercising his freedom of speech as an American citizen to speak about his religion.

    The prosecutors argued and the judge agreed with them that Abu Ali’s parents should not be trusted as custodians if Abu Ali was to be released awaiting trial because they had a single book in their library of more than a hundred books that mentioned a quote from Zawahiri. So one asks, my father is a professor and he has a copy of Mein Kamph in his library does that make him a Nazi or a bad custodial guardian?

    What many Muslims see is that our religion and/or more precisely the misinterpretation of our religion by law enforcement is increasingly being used to convict people who would not have otherwise been prosecuted had they been of any other faith. And that the government uses the specter of 9/11 to seek draconian sentences. I mean they even charged some of the Paintballers with violating the Neutrality Act which hasn’t been invoked in decades.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s