Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi

In 2004, Syed Fahad Hashmi allowed a friend of his, Mohammed Junaid Babar, to stay at his apartment for two weeks. The contents of Babar's luggage, which was stored at Hashmi's apartment, were raincoats and waterproof socks. Babar eventually handed this suitcase containing "military equipment" off to a high ranking Al-Qaida operative. The U.S. government claims that Hashmi knew the contents of the luggage and their destination, therefore he knowingly aided terrorists. Who would've guessed that Al-Qaida operatives, who have laptops, GPS systems, and other such modern devices - have a devil of a time getting their hands on raincoats.

Despite the fact that he is not accused of any direct connection with Al-Qaida, Hashmi faces 70 years in prison and is currently locked up in the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan where he has been housed since 2007. According to Slate writer, Jeanne Theoharis(Hashmi was a student of hers at Brooklyn College), Hashimi's conditions are deplorable:
Hashmi is allowed contact only with his lawyers and his immediate family—one visit by one family member every other week for one and a half hours. His cell is electronically monitored 24 hours a day, so he showers and relieves himself in view of the camera. He cannot receive or send mail except with his immediate family. He cannot talk to other prisoners through the walls or take part in group prayer. He is allowed one hour of exercise a day, in a solitary cage without fresh air. These conditions have degraded his health—in pre-trial hearings, he appears increasingly withdrawn and less focused—and have interfered with his ability to participate in his own defense.

How fair will Hashimi's trial be? Well, consider that most of the evidence against Hashimi cannot be viewed by him or revealed by his attorney, Sean Maher. Why? Because much of the evidence is "sensitive" and could threaten national security. Therefore, Hasimi can't argue in his own defense. But who cares, right? His name is Syed Fahad Hasmi and he's a Muslim - he must be guilty.

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