1993 WTC Bombing Patsies Still Imprisoned 30 Years Later

Despite overwhelming evidence of innocence

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Above is my interview with Karin Brothers commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center false flag bombing. Below is her new article, followed by an older one.

-Kevin Barrett (please subscribe to my Substack!)

The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center: the betrayal 30 years later

by Karin Brothers



February 26th, 2023 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City — a widely misunderstood false flag operation that paved the way for 9/11 by portraying Muslims as terrorists and introducing Islamophobic racism to the U.S.

When I watched the three World Trade Center (WTC) buildings disintegrate on September 11, 2001, I assumed that there would be no interest in the story of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; but when I realized Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and Osama bin Laden were being blamed for it, I realized the real facts had to come out.

At the time of the bombing, the West’s 40-year Cold War against Communism had recently ended with the disintegration of the USSR; unidentified western investors were said to have been scooping up its assets as its public resources were becoming privatized.  The U.S. military needed a new enemy to replace Communism in order to maintain its budget and protect it from any “peace dividend”.  A classified Congressional document around 1991 (also sent to selected media) identified the new enemy as “Islamic Fundamentalists”; this expanded the target of the 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, which called for (legal) Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation to be criminalized internationally as “terrorism”.   President George H.W. Bush’s 1991 “Madrid Peace Talks”, to end Israel’s 25-year military occupation of Palestinian territory, were continuing.

A massive bomb exploded under the Vista Hotel in the WTC at noon on Friday, February 26, 1993, killing 6, injuring 1000, and causing chaos throughout New York City for the rest of the day.  The WTC complex covered 16 acres of lower Manhattan; the unforgettable twin towers rose one half mile into the sky.  The damage under the hotel took out an area 2/3 the size of a football field and went down six floors to the PATH train station, underneath the level of the Hudson River.

The owner, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, thought that the bomb was so perfectly placed to cause maximum damage to the life support system that it had to be an inside job.  This was confirmed by an extraordinary New York Times (NYT) graphic two days later which showed that the damage was not circular, but oblong, with the two ends hitting a corner of each tower: the bombers had to have had access to the Trade Center blueprints. The big question was, what country had the ability to pull off such a sophisticated operation when the only real U.S. enemy at that time was Iraq, which the US had invaded in 1991 and still basically controlled.

The damage was so massive that police estimated it would take six months to gather clues from the black abyss.  It took a month to find the body of the Vista Hotel employee who had been working on the floor above the bomb; his body was found underneath all seven floors of rubble.  That weekend, however, an ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) agent entered the top edge of the abyss with a flashlight and came out with a load of vehicle parts that he claimed must have come from the bomb-laden van.  An FBI agent immediately worked to decipher a Vehicle Identification Number and quickly identified it as coming from a Ryder van: a van that a Mohammad Salameh had rented.

Mohammad Salameh paid $400 to rent a Ryder van to help move work mates who were soon to leave the New York area.  That Thursday evening, he used it to bring friends shopping at a local mall; when they came out with their groceries, the van had disappeared.  Horrified, Salameh called the police to report the van missing.  An officer Badiak responded but was unable to put out an immediate warrant for the van because it had an out-of-state license and there seemed to have been a mistake in Ryder’s handwritten license number that they gave to Salameh.  Badiak didn’t bother to track the number down that evening, but he made out the report and drove Salameh to his home at 24 Kensington, where he lived with an Israeli woman called Josie Haddas.  Or maybe Gosie Hadass: she apparently spelled her name differently whenever she wrote it.

Mohammad Salameh spent days on busses trying to get his $400 deposit back from the Ryder shop, which kept giving him a run-around. On the fourth attempt, on Wednesday, March 5th when he had been told he could pick up his refund, he was met with a small army of media and police, who arrested him as a suspect in the WTC bombing.  (Ryder records reportedly indicated that Salameh’s van was returned!)

Salameh’s court-appointed lawyer had a hard time trying to explain to Salameh, a recent Jordanian immigrant who had difficulty with English, why he had been arrested.  Salameh had faith in American justice; he wanted a fast trial so that he could get on with his life (stocking grocery shelves).  NYT reporter Chris Hedges contacted Salameh’s parents in Jordan; he had recently called them and they expected another call soon to announce his coming marriage.

The New York Times, which produced the most extensive coverage of this story, was fast off the mark claiming that Mohammad Salameh — who they suspected had probable terrorist connections — was an “Islamic fundamentalist”.  Its description of the WTC bombing as “sophisticated” turned to primitive, and the key graphic describing the pattern of damage disappeared from NYT archives, along with other information that did not fit the official government narrative.

Several other Muslim immigrants would join Salameh as defendants: gutsy Egyptian cabbie Mahmoud Abuhalima who, with his young family, had permanent resident status; Nidal Ayyad, a recently graduated (and married) Kuwaiti chemical engineer who had become an enthusiastic U.S. citizen, and  Palestinian refugee claimant Ahmad Ajaj who had been incarcerated from the previous September until March on immigration charges and had never even met the other defendants. The New York Times noted that, except for the cabbie, the defendants were all of Palestinian descent, which it found significant. The four men faced a broad conspiracy charge for moving weapons across state lines.  A fifth man was wanted with a reward: Ramzi Yousef had entered the U.S. five months before the explosion to join what was obviously the bombing plot and left the day it occurred.  The court protected the identities of — and access to — an estimated two dozen other facilitators of the bombing, including Israelis such as Josie Haddas (whose name was on Salameh’s Ryder van contract).

Several months later, the FBI was called in by its asset Emad Salem, a former Egyptian intelligence officer and bomb expert, to raid what he claimed was bomb-making to attack New York City landmarks and transportation hubs.  Some of the men weren’t sure what they were mixing stuff for and one who was charged, New Yorker Clement Hampton-El, smelled a rat and had been avoiding the group.  Weeks later, the world- famous, blind Egyptian cleric (a 1990 refugee claimant) Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman was arrested.  As the leader of local mosques that all of the defendants belonged to, prosecutors claimed the sheikh was the “mastermind” not only of the latest “bomb-making” but of the WTC explosion as well as the 1991 killing of terrorist rabbi Meir Kahane, (despite the fact that a New York State trial had found El Sayid Nosair not guilty!)  Fifteen men in all would face a “seditious conspiracy” charge that included the WTC bombing (with an acknowledgment that that was being tried separately); the four defendants of the first WTC trial were “unindicted co-conspirators” of this second trial, which made both trials appear to be related.  The conspiracy charges for both trials had such low requirements for conviction that guilty verdicts could have been regarded as virtually meaningless.  Competent legal counsel (which the courts tried to bar) should have been able to get all of them off.

The New York Times coverage was racist, biased and inflammatory; it tried to ensure convictions by painting the defendants as shadowy Muslim criminals who refused to admit their involvement and who were bringing treacherous jihadi terrorism to threaten all Americans.  At the end of October, 1993, the NYT published articles with verbatim parts of Emad Salem’s taped conversations with his FBI handler Nancy Floyd and her boss John Anticev in which both of them acknowledged that the FBI had overseen the Trade Center bombing plot, which a “higher up” had decided to make live instead of using planned fake explosives for the entrapment.

At the first WTC trial, the defense counsel couldn’t imagine that the defendants could be found guilty.  Because the four defendants had alibis, no motive, no means of doing it, and there was no evidence that they had done it, their defense counsel didn’t see the point of calling defense witnesses. They were all convicted, apparently because jurors assumed that the lack of witnesses meant they had no defense!  All those who would be tried in connection to the WTC bombing would be convicted, and most sentenced to life, including Ramzi Yousef and the real driver of the van (Salameh had also been charged as the driver), who had been an unwitting accomplice. Yousef was the only defendant of all of the WTC-related trials who was aware of the WTC bombing plan.  The appeals, at least one of which got to the Supreme Court, were of no use despite the Constitutional violations that they documented.

As a result of the Islamophobia generated by the media during these related trials, important Constitutional and judicial protections were jettisoned, which paved the way for the government’s future “war on terror”:
The sheikh’s sermons were used against him, despite First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and belief;
The Fourth Amendment freedom from unwarranted searches was jettisoned by allowing the use of illegal search warrants;
The Sixth Amendment right to counsel was abandoned in various trials, including raids on the sheikh’s legal staff, tape recordings of private meetings with lawyers, and ultimately the use of secret evidence, which encourages the fabrication of evidence; and
The Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment is violated by the Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”), (which were applied to the sheikh and Ramzi Yousef, among others), which isolates and hides from public scrutiny not only those convicted, but even those merely accused of a crime.  Defense counsel, like the sheikh’s lawyer Lynn Stewart, are also vulnerable to being criminally charged and incarcerated for violating SAMs.

In 1993, the only obvious motives behind the WTC bombing appeared to be destroying American sympathy for the Palestinians during the ongoing Mideast peace talks, and using the Trade Center trials to undermine Constitutional rights.

After the events of September 11, 2001, other motives for the ’93 bombing became evident.  To justify NATO members joining the U.S.’ “war on terror”, the U.S. used, as further supposed evidence of a sustained foreign attack by Al Qaeda:
the 1993 WTC bombing, including several names of those associated with it (Sheikh Abdul-Rahman, Ali Mohamed, Abdul Yasin, and Ramzi Yousef); references to the African Embassy bombing (Ali Mohamed and a minor participant); along with
the USS Cole explosion and the Millenium shoe bomb plot, neither of which appeared to be connected to Al Qaeda.

Despite the fact that Bin Laden denied any responsibility for 9/11, that Al Qaeda was a recognized asset of the US government, and that the FBI was already on record as having admitted to overseeing the WTC bombing, the drama of the September 11th events was shocking enough that every NATO member agreed to joining the US’ multi-year “war on terror”.

The motive of 9/11 first appeared to be the “war on terror’s” regime change of countries to benefit the U.S. or Israel; the “seven countries in five years” told to General Wesley Clark were clearly intended targets.  It also became evident that there were financial motives, such as the destruction of the Office of Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon, which was investigating billions of missing funds, along with other government-related financial fraud; its backup records at the WTC were also destroyed.

A financial motive for both the World Trade Center and Pentagon destruction became apparent with the publication of an extensively- referenced article called “Collateral Damage: U.S. Covert Operations and the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001” by a former member of the Office of Naval Intelligence using the pseudonym E.P. Heidner.  Heidner claims that on September 12, 2001, 10-year bonds worth $240 billion became mature and could be cleared only then because the Security and Exchange Commission, invoking emergency powers because of 9/11, suspended the requirement for identification to cash in securities for 15 days.  The detailed information — with stunning implications that include the asset-stripping of the USSR — indicate that this plot had started by September, 1991.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this story, along with the loss of Americans’ Constitutional rights, and the crimes that have gone unpunished, is the impact of the politically- generated Islamophobia, which has been compared to anti-Semitic racism before WW II.  The U.S. government has betrayed all of its citizens — particularly Muslims — by virtually defining “terrorism” as Muslim, and destroying the lives of many of the Muslims who came to the US to raise their families and make their own contribution to the United States.  This includes the innocent defendants of this story who have endured tortuous incarceration, and their children and grandchildren for whom they are irreplaceable.

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.


Requiem for a Martyr: The “Blind Sheik”, Omar Abdel-Rahman, Innocent Victim of Seditious Conspiracy Trial

See also Requiem for a martyr (Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman): https://alethonews.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/

By Karin Brothers | Global Research | March 5, 2017

“[America’s treatment of me] is a crime that history will never forgive.” – Omar Abdel Rahman

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “blind sheik”, died on the morning of February 18, 2017, near the 24th anniversary of the 1993 WTC bombing. He was an innocent victim of the US agenda to create a new enemy by engineering events that would make terrorism virtually synonymous with “Islamic fundamentalism”.

Sheik Abdul-Rahman attained national fame in Egypt while he was on trial for inciting the 1981 assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. With a passionate moral integrity, he courageously attacked the government during his two days on the stand; the intensive trial media gave him a national platform that made him famous throughout the Muslim world. His sermons were taped and traded throughout Egypt.
While he was vindicated of the charges against him, President Mubarak’s government ominously refused to give the necessary certification of the verdict and eventually drove Sheik Abdul-Rahman out of Egypt. The Sheik went to Afghanistan, where he helped the CIA recruit Arab fighters to serve with the US-backed mujahadeen (he would lose at least one of his own sons there), and the Sheik was reportedly on the CIA payroll.

Sheik Abdul-Rahman came to the US in 1990, hoping to remain until he could safely return to Egypt. According to Benjamin Begin in a 1993 Israel Today newsletter, Abdul-Rahman’s mosques were infiltrated by FBI and Mossad operatives and would be the source of recruitment for their operations.
The World Trade Center explosion occurred on Friday, February 26th, 1993. The Sheik was soon declared deportable when some of those charged were identified as members of his mosques. The sheik was in the FBI’s crosshairs; the FBI offered Egyptian intelligence agent Emad Salem over one million dollars to entrap him.

The cagey Salem, who had become a trusted member of the Sheik’s inner circle, was aware of the obligation that the Sheik had as spiritual leader to respond to congregants’ needs. Salem blindsided the sheik by going to his home after midnight on a Sunday, pretending to be in a spiritual crisis. He claimed that he felt guilty for his years in the Egyptian military and needed to atone for his actions by attacking a target in the US — such as the United Nations. The sheik tried to fob him off and talked him out of that terrorist target; he suggested that a US military target would be more appropriate, but he told Salem to “slow down” — to cool off. Salem went home happy.

The Joint Anti-Terror Task Force and the Justice Department were allegedly dubious about whether they had evidence that would convict Abdul-Rahman. The Sheik had repeatedly and publicly denounced the bombing of the WTC and claimed that he had nothing to do with it. Those who heard Emad Salem’s recorded attempt to incriminate the Sheik didn’t think it was persuasive enough to stand up in court. The FBI had tapped the Sheik’s telephones from two weeks before the WTC explosion until June, 1993; there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. The INS said he was complying with the requirements of his deportation appeal. Authorities noted that incarcerating the Sheik would be expensive because of his diabetes. A detention until appeals were completed could have lasted for months — if not for years.

Attorney General Janet Reno, who had publicly been reluctant to charge the Sheik, finally succumbed to the political pressure: pressure that also came from the Egyptian government, which still felt threatened by the Sheik’s popularity. Egyptian officials, afraid that Abdul-Rahman would be deported to Egypt, wanted him safely incarcerated in the US. On July 1st, 1993, the Justice Department, while avoiding making any criminal charge, decided to take the Sheik into custody – “indefinite administrative detention” — on immigration charges.

The Egyptian conundrum
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was afraid of Abdul-Rahman’s popularity and influence; he appeared to be worried about suffering the same fate as the Shah of Iran, deposed by a popular religious leader. Mubarak banned tapes of Sheik Abdul-Rahman’s sermons; those found with copies were subject to up to five years in jail. Three thousand copies of a newspaper Al-Hayat that featured a March interview with Abdul-Rahman were confiscated, and Abdul-Rahman’s mosque in Fayoum was empty, guarded by a police agent.

While the Egyptian government had initially asked the Clinton administration to hold the Sheik to make sure he was not deported to Egypt, they changed their minds when they were informed that under the immigration charges, the sheik could accept his deportation voluntarily and go to any country that would take him, which could make him even more of a threat to the Mubarak government. After intense discussions, the US agreed to accept Egypt’s official extradition request, which it claimed would take precedence over the deportation charge. The only hitch was that appeals might take as long as eight years.

Mubarak was livid. He reminded the U.S. that he had hosted an Arab summit before the 1991 US-led invasion of Iraq which brought most of the Arab world onside, providing important “optics” for the engineered invasion.

Egyptian authorities were also outraged that two employees of the US Embassy had met earlier that year with prominent members of the Islamic Group, which regarded Sheik Abdul-Rahman as their spiritual leader. The US seemed to be hedging its bets on Egyptian leadership so that it would not be caught out in Egypt as it had been in Iran, when Khomeini was swept into power. To add insult to injury, there was even a Congressional effort to cut back on US aid to Egypt.

President Mubarak then demonstrated to the Clinton administration who was in charge of Egypt. On July 8th, the Egyptian government hanged seven followers of Sheik Abdul-Rahman for attacks against foreign tourists and for conspiring to overthrow the Mubarak government. It was the largest number of executions for a political crime in more than four decades, and it would be the start of a brutal campaign against dissidents that would last until the 2011 Arab Spring.
After witnessing Mubarak’s treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood, it was evident that Abdul-Rahman’s supporters were powerless; Abdul-Rahman was expendable.

US rejects political asylum for Abdul-Rahman but can’t extradite him to Egypt

Meanwhile there were unforeseen complications with U.S. efforts to extradite Abdul-Rahman to Egypt. While the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Abdul-Rahman’s appeal for political asylum, it appeared that his appeals would eventually reach the Supreme Court. Also, State Department officials realized that the 100-year old extradition treaty between the US and Egypt did not permit extradition based on “any crime or offense of political character.” While one official claimed that US courts were not limited by treaties, another noted that the treaty strengthened Rahman’s case for political asylum.
The Egyptian plan to ensure that Sheik Abdul-Rahman would be placed under their control hit another challenge at the end of July when Afghanistan’s Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar offered his country as a refuge for the Sheik. The Sheik’s lawyers realized that deportation might be the only way for the sheik to regain his freedom, so they contacted the office of U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to request his deportation.

White’s office sat on the sheik’s deportation request while trying to accommodate Egypt’s demand for permanent control of the sheik. The problem was that those who were deported were free to go to any country that would accept them, but Egypt did not want the sheik in Afghanistan, where he would be free to communicate with his followers.

The “seditious conspiracy” solution
The sheik’s lawyers were still waiting for a response when, a week later, on August 25th, 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno issued an indictment for Sheik Abdul-Rahman along with 14 others for “seditious conspiracy”, an obscure charge employed against political dissidents.

The 20-count, 27-page indictment claimed that one terrorist organization [which started in 1989, the year before the sheik arrived in the U.S.] was behind all of the plots and that Sheik Abdul-Rahman, while not directly involved with the acts, was the “mastermind” who explicitly gave the orders. The listed plots included: plans to attack American military installations; plans to murder F.B.I. agents; plans to seize hostages to help release jailed conspirators; the 1990 killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane; the 1991 killing of Alkifah Center President Mustafa Shalabi; the 1993 WTC bombing [ambiguously included, since there was currently a separate trial for that]; the June “landmarks bombing plot”; and the plot to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak. The New York Times featured a map of the presumed terrorist targets; it appeared that New York City was under a Muslim siege.

The “seditious conspiracy” charge, which had been created to target Confederates at the end of the Civil War, was defined as when two or more people “conspire to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them.” Experts noted that the broad nature of the conspiracy indictment, which did not require connecting a defendant to any specific act of violence and allowed prosecutors to bring in evidence not related to terrorist acts, made it possible to convict people with little proof (let alone evidence) of guilt. Criminal defense experts claimed that the Government was framing the case as much on the defendants’ beliefs as on any acts they may have committed.

Defense lawyers were also disturbed by the Government’s piling up of charges on a socially-isolated and demonized group, especially reviving the Kahane case just two years after El Sayid Nosair had been acquitted. Claiming that the indictment was an attempt to “create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation”, defense lawyer Ronald Kuby noted that, “What they have done is take every allegation, every rumor, every loose end and created a vast mythical Islamic conspiracy. They have created a case that is so big and complicated that it is impossible to defend, impossible to understand, and impossible for any of these defendants to get a fair trial.”

Emad Salem’s tapes
Defense lawyers claimed that Emad Salem entrapped their clients by hiring them for his plots, then taped them making incriminating statements. Salem’s tapes, on which most of this trial would be based, would also include two FBI admissions of overseeing the provision of the WTC explosives. Ron Kuby requested that all of Salem’s tapes collected as evidence (which also showed the FBI’s unsavory ways of doing business) be released in their entirety to the public to expose the case as a conspiracy to frame the defendants. Judge Michael B. Mukasey, (who would be named Attorney General in 2007), refused to allow the tapes to be made public.

The seditious conspiracy trial would be delayed until January, 1995, and corresponded in time to the televised O.J. Simpson trial, which contributed to its lack of media coverage, despite being touted as the terror trial of the century. The year and a half between the defendants’ arrests and their trial gave the Government and courts time to strip the sheik and other defendants of Constitutional rights, including the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted search and seizure, and other basic freedoms. The homes of two of Rahman’s paralegals would be raided for information against him, and dissident reading material found in defendants’ homes that was deemed “anti-American” or showed “hatred of Jews” could be used as evidence against them.

The seditious conspiracy trial

As with the first World Trade bombing trial, there would be no change of venue, the jury would be unsequestered and — supposedly to protect them from Muslim terror threats — would be identified only by number; their names would never be made public. None of the jury was Muslim.

The media during the entirety of this trial would be filled with various terror stories. The seditious conspiracy trial had barely started when the “mastermind” of the WTC bombing, Ramzi Yousef, arrived in New York with huge media fanfare. Mukasey asked the jury on the day after Yousef’s arrival if their opinions were changed by this media coverage. He immediately determined that they weren’t, but ignored the subsequent barrage of prejudicial media exposure that lasted throughout this trial. Some of Yousef’s publicity should have helped the defendants because Yousef, who didn’t know sheik Abdul-Rahman, made statements that should have exonerated Abdul-Rahman and others. Unfortunately Yousef refused to testify at this trial and Judge Mukasey would not permit the defense counsel access to Yousef’s documents that the FBI had taken.

The Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred six weeks later in mid-April, was initially claimed to be similar to the WTC bomb, and due to Muslim terrorism. Mukasey “assumed” that the jury would not be affected by the anti-Muslim media, although the defendants received heightened physical protection in their detention center.
That June, the actual driver of the bomb-laden Ryder van came to media attention and in August, there was media fanfare with his extradition to the U.S.

Sheik Abdul-Rahman’s (nonexistent) Constitutional rights

Prosecution attention turned to the Sheik’s sermons to show his attitude towards the U.S. as well as his leadership in the Muslim community. Many of the Sheik’s sermons, which encouraged the devout to fight enemies of Islam and God, were read out in an effort to criminalize what should have been his freedoms of speech and belief.

Mukasey barred witnesses that would have shown the role of politics behind the arrest of Sheik Abdul-Rahman, that would have testified that Rahman was not the radical that the media had described, and that would have provided a clearer understanding of Muslim terms (such as jihad and fatwa) that were being used against the defendants. Mukasey’s rulings were devastating to the Sheik’s defense.
The defense lawyers tried to introduce sealed material from the previous WTC trial that would show the lengths to which the FBI had gone to implicate as well as convict the previous defendants in the World Trade Center trial. Although that material was not produced, FBI scientist Fredrick Whitehurst’s subsequent testimony about the FBI’s incompetence, perjury and obstruction of justice that facilitated the convictions of the four charged in the WTC bombing did tell part of that story.

The Government’s desperation to find damaging information on Sheik Abdul-Rahman was evident in the arrest of his paralegal at the end of April. The authorities’ claim that Nasser Ahmed’s overstay on a student visa “just came to our attention”, was contradicted by an FBI agent’s message to Ahmed that if he did not cooperate with the FBI, he would be deported to Egypt. After being charged with “secret evidence” and spending three years in solitary confinement, Ahmed would not be released until 1999.

The verdicts

Since this trial showed that there was little evidence that any of the defendants were guilty of any untried crime that had taken place, the prosecution tried to criminalize Islam; it described the defendants as a frightening “jihad army”: foreigners of a mysterious, militant culture. Judge Mukasey assured the jurors they could find that there was a single conspiracy despite the differing defendants and plots, “so long as you find that some of the conspirators continued for the entire duration of the conspiracy to act for the purposes charged in the indictment.”

After deliberating for seven days, the jury returned on October 1, 1995 with guilty verdicts for 48 out of the 50 charges. Sheik Abdul-Rahman’s lawyer Lynne Stewart broke down and cried.

The defense cries “foul” and calls for a mistrial

The defense counsel immediately called for a mistrial because they believed that the problems with the trial were so egregious. It was clear that the FBI made use of Egypt’s intelligence agent as an agent provocateur to carry out its own agenda. Some defendants claimed that exculpatory conversations were missing from the tapes; the FBI admitted that they had “briefly” returned the tapes to Salem after they had been entered as evidence.

Judge Mukasey told the defense lawyers that he would consider their request to hold a post-trial hearing on the issue of whether he should overturn the convictions. But on January 10, 1996, he rejected the defense motion to throw out the convictions of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others, claiming that there was no proof that the evidence that Salem had destroyed would have helped exonerate the defendants. Mukasey ignored Salem’s obvious motive for destroying evidence and the FBI’s interest in wanting him to do it.

Mukasey was determined to make an example of these “terror” defendants. While the sentence for seditious conspiracy was 20 years, Mukasey used that as a starting point, and added the other charges on top of that. He used his discretionary powers to make each part of the sentences sequential rather than concurrent; the sentences ranged from 30 years to life.
Sheik Abdul-Rahman was sentenced to life. Worse, the government silenced Abdul-Rahman even further by new “Special Administration Measures” which allowed them to essentially isolate him totally. To facilitate that agenda, it taped what were supposed to be his private conversations with his lawyer Lynne Stewart, and would imprison her for trying to circumvent the restrictions.

The obscure conspiracy law came into its own

The prosecution congratulated itself on its use of the seditious conspiracy charge. The verdict showed that the conspiracy law provided them with an easy venue to obtain verdicts with little evidence and for which no crimes had occurred. The conspiracy charge would become the mechanism to convict Muslims in future terror trials because of the low standards required of any individual’s involvement.

The price

This trial demonstrated how the efforts of the government, the courts and the media — particularly the New York Times — ensured that the Muslim defendants could not obtain a fair trial.  The New York Times enabled convictions in all of these related trials by maligning the defendants with anonymous government leaks, generally using biased and inflammatory language to describe them, and invariably assuming their guilt.

The injustice of these convictions and the fruitless appeals have been clear to those following the cases. While few Americans seem to be aware of the injustice, it has not been lost on the worldwide Muslim community. There were various actions designed to free Sheik Abdul-Rahman, including the 2005 kidnapping of the four Christian Peacemaker Team members in Iraq: Tom Fox (who died), James Loney, Norman Kember and Harmeet Singh Sooden.

The world lost a passionate voice for moral integrity with the silencing of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, and his death before attaining justice was tragic. His passing should provide Americans the opportunity to understand how FBI-monitored acts were used to eliminate Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of belief, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. By ignoring the elimination of Muslim rights, Americans are laying the groundwork for the elimination of their own.

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.

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