Immediately after, I got the heads up about a note written by an eloquent sister named Aisha Chaudhry. In her piece, she stands in full support of Mehanna, claiming that "Tariq holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. He is a devout and tolerant Muslim who is not only respected in the local Islamic and interfaith communities, but who also gives back to his Islamic community by fulfilling the roles of brother, educator, mentor, scholar, and friend. Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, peaceful, intelligent, knowledgeable, reflective, pragmatic, dedicated, and straightforward."
Apparently, he was targeted by the FBI because of his influence in the community. They wanted him to be an informant. "Their objective was to secure Tariq as a tool to corroborate any FBI claims or accusations against members of the community that might arise, at the discretion of the FBI. Of course, Tariq flat out refused to backstab his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, a decision that did not sit well at all with the FBI."
According to this Facebook Group and this note, when Mehanna refused, his family became the target of a smear campaign. It was with almost maniacal stubbornness that they came at him, in an effort to implicate him. "Tariq was told that unless he consented to cooperating with the FBI, they would continue finding new ways to disrupt his life and to deprive him of a sense of security. He was told outright by interrogators that they knew he was innocent, but that they would not be satisfied with his refusal to cooperate."
"Tariq is currently incarcerated at the Plymouth Correctional Facility, where he is expected to remain for the several year duration of a new trial based on outright FALSE AND LUDICROUS accusations of aiding and abetting terrorism. He currently faces LIFE IN PRISON if convicted guilty in a trial by grand jury."
We all know we should be standing up for the rights of the oppressed. So why are people finding it so difficult to join the group and take a stand? Perhaps it's difficult to take a stand on this issue and demand Mehanna's release when you feel you are lacking all the evidence in the case. I fully respect all those who are bringing attention to his case. And yet, here I am, unable to accept the e-vite, but also unwilling to ignore the issue.
Let me clarify.
1) Fact - Mehanna is seen as normal guy; a dedicated Muslim brother.
2) Fact - Governments have shown the ability - and the willingness -to falsify evidence, ignore the truth and hold innocent people illegally. Just think about the Maher Arar case in Canada. It revealed the ineptitude, the hypocrisy and the abuse that sometimes exists in the governmental responses to "The War on Terror."
3) Fact - Western, home-grown terrorism is real and thriving. It's real; not just a government ploy to trap Muslims. Olivier Roy, a renowned French political scientist who has written on terrorist issues, has written about the neo-fundamentalist terrorists - who are bred in the West and export their views to the Middle East. Not the other way around, as is commonly assumed. This new form terrorism - often called Salafi jihadism - is based on a more violent understanding of Salafi ideology. This interpretation rejects cultural interpretations of Islam, sees society in moral decay and advocates suicide jihad as a means of returning Islam to its glory days.
4) Saying that Mehanna is "normal" actually means very little. Louise Richardson is another thinker who has done extensive work on terrorist activities. She has discovered that profiling is largely a huge flaw; a game. There is no such thing as a "normal" person and a "typical terrorist." There are no physical markings, personal beliefs or countries of origin that are more highly linked to terrorism than another. All governments have to go by is that they are usually Muslim. This is why anybody with a Pak/Arab last name is stopped at the airport. And what is Border Services looking for when they rummage through your bag? They really have no clue - they're just hoping they see something obvious, like a ticking bomb. Other than that, it's all random guess work. No one passenger is more likely to be a terrorist than another.
Case in point: the infamous 07/07 bombings in London: 30-year-old Mohammad Sidique Khan was born and raised in Leeds. He was a kind, well-respected teacher for children who have learning disabilities, and he was the father of a one-year-old daughter, Maryam. His mother in law was also a renowned and celebrated educator.
22-year-old Shehzad Tanweer was a young, social, sporty man; also born and raised in the UK. He drove a Benz, and studied sports science at Leeds Metropolitan University. He loved cricket and martial arts and he was the wealthy son of a successful business man. Everybody who knew him said he was completely uninterested in politics as "sound as a pound." (Louise Richardson, Chapter 5, pages 133-135).
And yet, on July 07, 2005, they both met up with friends at King's Cross Station in London, took four separate tubes and went "kaboom" during morning rush hour, at 8:50 am; killin themselves, 56 other innocent people, and injuring 700 more.
it's a wonder what "normal" people can do.
Based on this, I am incredibly confused about where to stand on the Mehanna issue. On the one hand, if he IS a terrorist, then he should be in jail, right? Despite whatever effect this will have on Muslims and the bad Western case of "Islamophobia". On the other hand, if he's innocent - do we have any chance of proving it? The government is adept at winning trials like this. There is no reason to believe that his trial will actually be fair.
So all I can do is pray and hope that Allah Ta'alla will give him, his family - and the rest of us - exactly what is coming to us; exactly what we deserve. And I stand and support all those demanding that he get an open and fair trial, and I hope he actually gets this. Without popular support standing by his side, governments won't be pressured to actually treat him well.
And perhaps this is an indication that we need people like Maher Arar to get involved and develop some ideas, best practices or lessons learned about how people can get themselves out of these traps. Once you get targeted by the FBI - you're done for, whether you're innocent or not. How can this change. How can we ensure trials are not circuses?
For example, prosecutors are claiming that Mehanna's plan to gun down a shopping mall was abandoned because he could not get the guns to do it. I am certain that getting guns in the United States is no difficult task. Get them online, get them on the streets - damn, get them at Walmart. Is this "evidence" just BS?
Just as Osgoode Hall Law has an "Innocence Project" that focuses on people who have been wrongly arrested, perhaps this can grow and expand to act as some kind of oversight body for cases related to terrorism. Is this feasible? is this already happening?
I'd like to hear your point of view. And I'd also like to ask - on a side note - : is there anything wrong with being an informant? Would you ever snitch if you knew your neighbour was planning to go jihad on the CN Tower? Or is all snitching seen as backstabbing?
All we can really say in times like this is Astaghfirullah, Inshallah and Subhanallah.